And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Then he said to Him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 19:16-22, NASB) (See Mark 10:17-22 and Luke 18:18-23)
What am I still lacking? Jesus led the rich young ruler to this place; what a masterful work of God in leading the rich young ruler to teach us this truth about discipleship. This young man knows he is lacking or he would not have asked this question of the Rabbi, the Teacher. The question is an honest one and a question we all should pose to the Christ – “what do I lack?” We all need work because the process of sanctification is a process of character development that takes time and the loving care of the Holy Spirit. What hinders us from becoming a disciple, from growing in Christ? Whatever it is we need to let go of it. The Holy Spirit will reveal it to us if we are honestly seeking His guidance and are submitting to His rule, which is being poor in spirit.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification.… (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NKJV)
If you wish to be complete (or perfect in the NKJV). Now we get to the heart of the matter. Perfect here is defined as being perfected or mature, not perfect as being without sin. If you want to be mature in the faith; if you want to grow into what the Savior wants you to be, this is how to get there rich young ruler. THIS is the true thing you lack and the true answer. Growth, maturity, and fruitfulness are what we should be wanting and this happens in discipleship. This only happens when we die to self (denying the self) and by submitting to the life in the Spirit (being poor in spirit).
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. (Romans 6:4-6, NASB)
Sell your possessions…give to the poor. The one thing that was lacking in the rich young ruler’s life was that his possessions possessed him. He could not surrender all to the cause of discipleship because his self cared too much about the riches of the world. In order to receive the life he asked Jesus for the rich young ruler would have to give up what owned him, his possessions. Riches are not just about money and accumulating expensive goods. Riches include those whom you keep company. Do they possess you? The cloud of witness (Hebrews 12:1) is the type of company a disciple should keep.
Follow Me. The call of discipleship is there for the person who can surrender all to follow the Christ. It is a huge expense because it costs all of you – complete surrender of all that which we possess including wealth, time, talents, plans, and our will. We surrender all in order to be a disciple – that is the requirement. How can we possibly get to that place? My suggestion is that the Beatitudes are where you need to start, and more specifically we need to start with the first beatitude and become poor in spirit. We will see this more clearly later in future blogs.
He went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. The rich young ruler chose not to follow the Christ because he was being held by his possessions instead of being a steward of what the Lord allowed him. This may be one of the biggest barriers in the Western Church to becoming a disciple – possessions. We are a culture are addicted to consumerism. Just look at the big SUVs with the Christian bumper stickers in front of six bedroom homes with a boat, jet skis, and the like. Don’t even try to teach tithing in the Western Church! “He had great possessions.”
For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; he blesses the greedy and renounces the LORD. (Psalm 10:3, NKJV)
So are the ways of everyone who is greedy of gain; such [greed for plunder] takes away the lives of its possessors. (Proverbs 1:19, Amplified)
He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live. (Proverbs 15:27, NASB)
Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – (Revelation 3:17, NKJV)
Determine today if you can surrender all, including wealth and possessions, so you can become a disciple.