GOSPEL WEALTH: The Rich Young Ruler & Spiritual Maturity
There are many plateaus in spiritual growth. Just as a seed of a plant unfolds into maturity towards the sun, we as spiritual beings also reach towards God unto spiritual perfection. The righteousness that resides in believers is of Jesus and the salvation of the soul of believers is sure. Yet many stopped short of attaining their full potential in Christ. Jesus taught in ‘The Parable of The Sower’ (Matthew 13:7) that the seed that grew up among the thorns was not able to reach maturity because of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. This is also exemplified by Jesus’ visit with the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-22). Despite the young man’s good religious record and desire to follow Jesus, he was unable to do what Jesus required of him, therefore he ceased from going into the next level with God. The rich young ruler was unable to grow beyond the law into the grace Jesus offered. He was unwilling to part with his wealth which held the highest esteem in his life. The event displayed in the gospels touches hearts today with a message that riches are not the source but only a resource derived from God who is the priority. The attitude of using wealth to gain a foothold in the kingdom of God is sin. Also conceiving agendas for self advancement subtlety re-orientates the will of God into the realm of self-gratification.
The Rich Young Ruler approached Jesus and said, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The young man was deeply steeped in Jewish law and tradition. His life paradigm was a focus of following the law and appropriating the correct measures to establish retribution according to the traditions of Jewish law. Jesus responded, “Thou knowest the commandments” . . . The young man responded “all these have I kept from my youth up.” Maybe the young man was eager to become a charter member of the new sect begun by Jesus. Maybe somehow he could increase his holdings by being on the ground floor of something exciting and new. However he missed the mark by placing his emphasis on what could do politically or economically, as a ruler with a large bank account. Jesus told him to “sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”
Jesus cut at the heart of the Young Ruler by requesting him to sell his goods. Did it really matter now and was the excitement of following Jesus motivated by a personal agenda that included wealth? Maybe the rich young ruler’s ambition got in the way and by introducing his services he thought he could gain favor.
Jesus introduced grace into a Jewish society of laws and traditions. Jesus was filled with wisdom and the grace of God from childhood (Luke 2:40) just as the rich young ruler was a legalist from a youth and many of us know the holy scriptures from childhood (I Tim. 3:15) yet, many stray from the teachings of Christ and the true meaning of what is important to God. Most importantly to worship God in spirit and in truth, must not be shunned.
The rich young ruler may have had other agendas or ambitions that were not kingdom founded. To build upon the foundation of the Kingdom of God it does not require riches, or heritage. It requires a sincere heart that is given to God. If the rich young ruler would have been quiet and followed Jesus he may have changed his paradigm over time and given his wealth without being told. Nevertheless, he tried to impose his will on the Lord.
In this discourse among Princes, Jesus gave the Rich Young Ruler a prerequisite that he could not accept. His politicking did not work and he could not trust Jesus more than he loved his riches and clout. He needed a behavior change but was unwilling to submit to the intelligence spoken.
“For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist, Says the Lord. But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2).
Spiritual Warfare Manual
© 2012 Reginald Boswell