For those of you who know me, every part of the “rich young ruler” title is a lie! First, I am not rich. I will however, gladly give you some of my debt. Second, I am not young. I proudly proclaim to everyone that I am a grandfather 4 times over so no matter how young I appear, I am not young. Third, I am not a ruler. The closest I have gotten to a ruler is the straight edge we used in school. The one thing I can brag about is my ruler. In Canada a ruler is 30 units long unlike the American ruler which is only 12 units. Still, after all this I must admit that I am The Rich Young Ruler.
I have no problems asking Jesus what I must do.
I ask for direction and guidance. I ask if I am on the right track. I ask how I can better represent Him. I ask how to be a better husband, father, grandfather, son, pastor… I ask for inspiration in my writing. I ask for protection. I ask and I ask and I ask, what must I do to be/have all these things?
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 (NIV)
I have given up many things as a follower of Christ.
I am sure there are many more things I will need to give up over the years I have left to live (remember I am not young anymore). I lack perfection but I do not lack the desire to obey the commandments of God. I would even go as far as to say I am totally committed to the requirements that Jesus gave in response to the man’s question.
“‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 19:18-19 (NIV)
I’m a pretty good guy.
I would say that even though I have wanted to kill a few people, I have had teenage boy thoughts about women (see Matthew 5:28), I have taken a few things that weren’t mine, I have lied, on occasion I have been a little less than honouring to my parents and while I have to admit I don’t always love my neighbour, hence the wanting to kill a few people, I’m still a pretty good guy.
I am not sure that I would go as far as The Rich Young Ruler and say “All these I have kept,”… “What do I still lack?” Matthew 19:20 (NIV), but I would be tempted to say I am living a pretty good life and ask Jesus “what do I still lack?” I hope Jesus wouldn’t answer with, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21 (NIV)
I have somethings in my life I want to keep.
I am not rich, young or a ruler. I don’t have much money, energy or power. So if Jesus told me to go sell everything I have it wouldn’t be that big a deal. I would have trouble parting with a few of the things that have personal meaning and bring back memories but I don’t see them as stumbling blocks in my relationship with Him. My desire to keep them is not a desire to hold them in higher regard than my saviour. I don’t see them as being in the way of my eternal life.
I have somethings I need to give up.
I may not have much money, energy or power, but I do have things that get in the way of me totally surrendering to God. Like The Rich Young Ruler there are things that I can do that are pleasing to God, things that align with His commands. Like The Rich Young Ruler there are things that take importance over God, things that I rely on instead of Him. These are the things I must give up. These are the things that give me security and a sense of power and position when who I am, what I do and in what I trust should all be defined by God.
I am The Rich Young Ruler, I find comfort in what I can do and what I have. Please don’t ask me to give it all up and trust God.
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:22 (NIV)