Consider the Cost
In his conversation in Luke 18, Jesus listed the commandments that gave the rich young ruler a sense of obedience that enabled him to believe he was a “good Christian”. However, these were external signs that demonstrated obedience to God, but Jesus knows the heart. He knew that the rich young ruler didn’t love God above all else, and he idolized his status of wealth and influence.
The rich young man grew sad at Jesus’s response because he knew Jesus was right. The man’s true dedication was to his personal kingdom rather than God’s Kingdom. In Luke 14, Jesus explained to a crowd that the cost of discipleship is to give up everything. He went on to challenge the crowd to genuinely consider the cost of being his disciple before they left everything to follow Jesus.
It appears that the young man sincerely wanted to follow Jesus, but the cost of being a disciple cost him too much, which is a false belief. The true issue for the rich young ruler is that he was entwined in Satan’s snare. He bought into the lie that accumulating stuff would be his greatest joy in life. The rich young ruler didn’t actually have wealth; wealth had him trapped in blindness and had hardened his heart to God.
God has called many wealthy people to love Him. For example, a beloved Old Testament character is Job, who was a well-liked, wealthy man. Despite losing all of his material riches and his treasured family, he remained faithful to God because he knew there was nothing worth more than knowing, loving, and obeying God. In the New Testament, we see Mary interacting with Jesus as she poured on his feet her most prized possession, described as a perfume or ointment, which was worth a year’s wages. Despite Judas criticizing the way she used the perfume, which he thought could have a better use as being sold for money to provide food for the poor, Jesus commends her generous gesture. The difference between Mary’s generosity, Job’s lost riches, and the rich young ruler’s response to Jesus is that in each situation God asked for faithfulness to him above all else, and the rich young ruler was unable to comply. We all cling to something, and Mary and Job demonstrate what it looks like to hold wealth with open hands so God can receive the greatest glory with the use of our resources.
Who are you like? Mary and Job, or the rich young ruler? Do you hold tighter to your stuff than you cling to Jesus Christ?