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There are three key things in the story of the Rich Young Ruler that people miss. The story is about an eager young man who fails to value Jesus more than his wealth. In the end he goes away sad.
The three points
First, how did this man approach Jesus? Did he approach him as a flawed man needing a savior? Or did he approach him in a manner saying, I am OK tell me so? Who needs a savior, if they don’t need to be saved? This man wanted a pat on the back. He didn’t want a change in his heart. Jesus wanted this man’s heart changed. Hence, he challenged him in a hard way based on the fact that he presented himself as someone who had ‘arrived’.
Second, he went away sad. Think about that. He could have gone away angry. He could have gone away indifferent. He could have gone away condemning. He could have gone away home lots of different ways. But he went away sad. Jesus asked him to do a hard thing and he went away sad. Why? When do you feel sad? I think he was being convicted. That can be the work of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know this rich young ruler’s outcome, but going away sad is a good start. He was in a place where he had to deal with an issue. He presented himself to Jesus like he had it all together and Jesus wanted him to know he had room for growth.
Third, how did Jesus respond, after telling this man to obey the commandments? Jesus looked at him and loved him. I don’t think Jesus wanted to condemn him; he wanted to grow him. He loved him.
I imagine that this story of the Rich Young Ruler can make wealthy Christians feel guilty from time to time. Maybe on occasion they could have their wealth slammed against them, as if it’s a badge of dishonor. This happens in one of my stories, Plumb and True, from Modern Parables for Financial Freedom. This story tries to find a balance between different perspectives on money.
May God bless you in your journey – wealthy or not.