February 3 – The Rich Young Man

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 3 – The Rich Young Man

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 

“Which ones?” the man inquired. 

Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth (Matthew 19:16-22).

The young man asked Jesus about which good deed would get him into heaven and Jesus responded by saying that no thing is good, there is really on One who is good.  This reminds me of several conversations I had with my grandmother.  She was a wonderful woman who firmly believed that what went into our hearts and minds and what came out of our mouths should always promote goodness and love.  I wasn't allowed to play the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” on her organ because the words were about war.  There were no books in her home with curse words.  Consequently, there were a lot of Reader’s Digest Condensed books for everyone to read.  We couldn't say that we ‘loved’ something.  Inanimate objects couldn't receive our love, so we shouldn't express something that was such a part of our relationship with God and others.  Her reasoning makes perfect sense, even if it seemed a little old-fashioned for a young girl.

Jesus didn't want this young man to think that his good deeds made him holy in the same manner that God is holy.  And Jesus saw something else about this young man that made his one good thing worthless in the sight of God and mankind.  The young man was much more interested in keeping his wealth and his way of life than he was in actually getting into heaven.  When he said he’d kept the commandments, even up to and including loving his neighbor, he didn't mean it.  He loved himself more than anything else and that was apparent to Jesus.

Once more in this passage, Jesus talks about perfection and once more it is in reference to loving others.  Jesus told the young man to sell everything and give it to the poor.  This wasn't Jesus’ snide push at the guy for loving his wealth more than anything else, it was Jesus’ way of saying that people are more important than anything else.

People are more important than our pride, our wealth, our security, our rules, our way of doing things, our expectations.  People are more important. Loving people is the most important thing we can do as we show our love for God.

What stops you from loving people?