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Rich, young . . . and sad

The rich, young, ruler had commitment issues --- though it wasn’t that he was lacking in it.  (I find it interesting that we can sit in the comfort of our Bible studies, most of us possessing more wealth than he did and smugly suggest that he wasn’t committed enough because he was unwilling to sell his possessions as if we wouldn’t flinch if the same command were given to us!).  Anyway, I understand the issue with the young man to be what he was committed to rather than how much the level of his commitment was.

We read this from Mark’s account (10:17-23 - emphasis mine):

*      what must I do to inherit eternal life,” (v. 17),


*      “’Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy,’” (v. 20),


*      At this the man’s face fell.  He went away sad, because he had great wealth,” (v. 22).

He not only had great wealth, he had a wealth of confidence in himself.  By telling him to sell all that he had, Jesus was attempting to sever that connection and help to trust in something bigger than himself.  The disciples seemed to have a similar view of wealth as did the rich, young, ruler.  They viewed it as a transcendent factor in relationships with God --- its presence was conclusive proof that a person was pleasing to God.  This is why when Jesus states the truth about the rich, the camel, and the needle’s eye, they were so shocked.  To their way of thinking, the rich already had God’s approval as evidenced by their wealth.  If they didn’t, then who possibly could?

Jesus’ answer is revealing and I think confirming of the theme we’ve pursuing.  His answer i that “with man this is impossible” (v. 27).  Rich or poor, no one was good enough to be good enough.  No one earned their way into relationship with God.  Since that’s true, than it was folly to trust in yourself.  And that’s exactly Jesus’ point.  “With God all things are possible.”  When we stop trusting what we can do and start trusting what God can do, it opens up a whole new world that was previously shut off to us before.  All things are possible” in this world --- redemption, blessing, fellowship, peace, and contentment. 

The account of the rich, young, ruler ends on a poignant note as he went away “sad,” unwilling to let go of trusting in himself.  What a different story it is for those who put their trust in God --- looking away from self and toward God brought them profound joy (see Acts 8:39, 16:34).

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” (Proverbs 3:5).  
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