The Rich Young Ruler in Us

‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bear false witness. You must not defraud anyone. (Mark 10:19)

broken-mirror2

Money and possessions.

They were the stumbling blocks for the rich young ruler. But let’s begin at the beginning.

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

Jesus told us to ask and we would receive; seek and we would find (Matthew 7:7). But just because we knock and the door is opened doesn’t mean we will step over the threshold. When God gives us answers, it doesn’t mean we will respond to His call, for we may not like what He has to say or think we are capable of doing what He asks.

 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bear false witness. You must not defraud anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” (Mark 10:18-19)

Acknowledging all humans sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), Jesus goes on to list several commandments the young man must obey. However, notice one of these is not one of the Ten Commandments: “You must not defraud anyone.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reminds us that although “You shall not murder” is one of the Ten Commandments, he removes the legalism and expands the commandment to include the heart: “But I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:22)

How many times do we find ourselves angrily calling people names, whether on social media, gossiping to a friend, or just inside our heads?

Here he expands ‘Do not steal’ and ‘Do not lie’ into “You must not defraud anyone.” Could he see into the rich young man’s heart? Can he see into ours?

 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (Mark 10:20)

How often do we, legalistically speaking, comfort ourselves into believing we have kept all the commandments? If we do a heart check, what is our own prognosis?

  • Have we given anger to someone instead of grace?
  • Have we coveted something we don’t need or someone we shouldn’t desire?
  • Have we taken something that isn’t ours to take? If not a possession, someone’s dignity, innocence or sense of accomplishment?
  • Have we lied instead of owning up to the truth? Have we told a lie out of convenience or pride?
  • Have we defrauded someone simply because we could?
  • Have we honored our parents, even if they were not the parents we wanted?

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The young man went away sick at heart at these words because he was very wealthy and had many possessions. (Mark 10:21-22)

Why did Jesus feel ‘genuine love’ for this man at this point in the story? Because he knew the rich young ruler actually believed he had kept all the commandments. The young man actually believed he wore the clothes of a righteous man. He didn’t know any better. And because Jesus was about to strip him of those clothes with two sentences, the young man would choose to walk away.

How do we feel when God speaks directly to us? What is the feeling we get in the pit of our stomach when we are suddenly made acutely aware of our weaknesses and offenses and are humbled before God? What do we choose to do?

We have three choices:

1) We can become so mortified and feel so unworthy we feel like a failure. We can decide we have fallen from grace and begin to believe we have to work and perform to get back into the good graces of God.

2) We can become confused, grieved or angry at God for pointing out our faults and simply walk away from Him. We cab fiercely hang onto our own ideas, convince ourselves that other people are far worse off than we are and begin to point out their weaknesses and transgressions.

3) We can choose to accept we are human and take an honest look into the mirror. We can lean into Him for strength and guidance, knowing we cannot change on our own. We can accept His forgiveness and mercy which are new every day. We can rest assured in our Father’s unconditional love. We can continue to ask him to search our hearts for anything that is faulty. We can abide in the Spirit who leads us onto the path of doing the right thing and being the image of God.

Looking at [his disciples], Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

 

16 comments

  1. God covered it all didn’t he Susan? We need him every second of everyday. In him we live. Thank you for for sharing this with us.
    Peace to you

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    1. He sure did, Tom, and we sure do.

      Whenever I look back at the things I did, the way I was before I finally accepted His invitation I find myself so grateful He was patient with me, so humble He kept me alive and able to discern the difference between the end result of my choice to follow Him or continuing to follow the enemy.
      He gave me the courage to take that good, long, hard look in the mirror and it made all the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha Love it. We got alot more in common than you know Susan. That old mirror will tell the story every time we look. I have been so busy Latley. I am doing pastoral care in Tuesday and working with a team of Pastors in trying to put in place a effective way to reach the lost in our county. It is good busy though. I am really tired these days. Miss those days I off steady blogging.

        Blessings to you Susan

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      2. I just knew we had more in common than was on the surface, my sweet brother! 🙂

        Sounds like you’re involved in some wonderful work, shining His light and love around. Don’t forget to pause to ask Him to take care of you, too, to fill you up so you can fill others.

        Love and peace to you, Tom. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes I do ask him for favor and strength. God strengthen and reveal your mighty love to Susan. Guide her and give her discernment and clarity in all she does. Open doors that need to be opened and close those that need to be closed. Let her have ears that hear you. Fill her with your spirit that she could reach the lost and impart your love in others.

        Blessings my sister

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      4. I will take, own and cherish that prayer, Tom.
        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Just as I am…..Thanks for this invitation to look into the mirror. Or to let God

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    1. As I was saying 😊, to let God tell us what God sees in the mirror.
      Elouise

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      1. 🙂 Right, Elouise. We can be extended invitations, but have to accept them to be open to look and to hear, right? Or as Jesus said, to allow God to give us ears to hear and eyes to see.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, after reading this thoughtful and helpful piece, Susan, I thanked my parents again, mentally, for raising me as a strict Catholic. Not that the RC Church hasn’t got its faults, deep ones, but one thing going to catechism classes and confession every single week did was drum into me the very things you mentioned. They were also precepts that my grandparents and parents followed any way.

    My biggest weakness is anger. I am not a covetous or jealous or envious person but I do get incensed easily and have a sharp tongue. I work on it constantly, with variable success or failure.

    Thank you for reminding me to follow His lead!

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    1. It’s funny, Beth, I was raised Jewish – more of tradition than religion – and was raised with the same values. I didn’t become a believer until my mid-fifties.
      I remember having an online conversation with someone who remarked I was blessed because I didn’t have to “unlearn” the legalism many Christians are faced with today.
      I think he was right.
      That’s not to say I don’t have my own rich young ruler in my – I certainly do – but I think it’s sometimes easier for me to let go of “preconceived legalism” because I wasn’t raised with it.
      We all need to pray for each other that we abide in God’s love and reflect His compassion and grace.

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  4. Susan, you have touched on something that has been on my heart and in my prayers lately. Very timely. hugs.

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    1. Hugs and love to you, my friend. Glad it resonated with you. ❤

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  5. This was well said. I want to leave you a proper comment, but I agree with everything you’ve written here and I can’t think of anything to elaborate on. Just know your words are much appreciated. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, IB. And I appreciate your comment as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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