In three of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, each writer gives the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus to inquire how he might have eternal life. Luke 18:18-24 and Matthew 19:16-22 both give lengthier descriptions of this encounter. (Take a moment to read these two accounts). The young man came to Jesus seeking to know how he could have eternal life. Luke's account says that the young man called Jesus "good". This was unusual because only God is
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Jesus told him that if he wanted to enter eternal life he should keep the commandments, and then, the Lord went on to list five of the six commandments that make up the second table of The Ten Commandments dealing with human relationships. Christ omitted the tenth commandment dealing with covetousness and added Leviticus 19:18 which is the summation of the second half of the Decalogue ("You shall love your neighbor as yourself.") Unfortunately, the young man's heart was not open to what the Lord was telling him and in a self-righteous manner declared that he had kept all these commandments. He could not admit to his own sin. So, Jesus, in His infinite wisdom put forth an instruction that He knew this young man would have to grapple with. He said: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess, give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matt. 19:21). For the young man, this was the deal breaker. He could not give up his many possessions. They were his god, and he left sorrowful.
This young man's refusal to obey Christ shows us two important things. First, when it came to the Law that he so pridefully said he had kept, he fell short because he loved his possessions far more than his neighbors. Secondly, he also lacked saving faith which involves full surrender to the Lordship of Christ. He would not abandon his wealth and follow Jesus. Keep in mind that Jesus was not advocating salvation by giving away possessions. Our Lord knew that this young man loved himself and all that he owned far more than his neighbors or God. Jesus demanded that this young man give Him first place in his life. It was a call to faith and an answer to his question about what he should do to gain eternal life. His response was to walk away not believing in the Lord.
Where we, as well as the rich young ruler, fall down is in the area of proof reading (or evaluating) our own lives in the light of God's Word to us. The Ten Commandments do not save us, but they serve to show us that we can never measure up to God's holiness in our own strength. Our sinful nature keeps us from loving others as we ought to, and without the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us, we can never be obedient. God's Spirit is our spell check. He convicts us of sin and warns us of temptation. The young man could not see his own self-righteousness and pride in his possessions because he lacked faith in Christ.
Each day, we need to take a look at our lives and see where we are falling short. Then, we need to repent and ask God in Christ to forgive us. It's like proofreading before we publish. God knows all about us even before we pray. He calls us to be holy even as He is holy and this only happens when we give our life to Him and walk moment by moment in His Spirit.
I don't know if the newspaper will ever clean up its act, but we can certainly keep our lives in right standing with God when we take the time to examine them. This will bring glory to God and allow us to enjoy Him forever. Selah!