17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
As best we can tell, the “rich young ruler” (as he is known in Scripture) seemed to be a pretty good guy. He’d never killed anyone. He respected marriage vows. He didn’t steal. He was honest. He was respectful to mom and dad. Yet, something in him must have remained unsettled – to know that he was keeping the Commandments and still feel the need to ask this respected Rabbi Jesus what else he must do to have eternal life.
He knew that his “good enough” was not quite good enough.
Jesus response must have rocked him a bit. First, I love that the Word says that Jesus looked at him… and loved him. Why does it say that? It could easily have been omitted. Then interesting that He says “you lack one thing” (my emphasis added) because his next statement clearly shows that this young man must have lacked very little due to his wealth.
But, as He does, Jesus was looking beyond the material – beyond the physical. No. He looked much much deeper. What He knew was that this man’s stuff “owned him” in some way. The security that this rich young ruler was placing in his money and in his possessions was keeping him from the security of eternity. I don’t think that Jesus cared whether this guy had stuff or not. I think He cared about the mindset and the heart condition of the man. The question for this man to answer was this: at the end of the day, did he want God more than his stuff?
It’s kind of like Superman’s kryptonite. That one thing above all else that will weaken your resolve despite your hardest effort and your best intentions. That one thing that, if you’re not careful, will pull you away from the “something better” that exists for your life. That one thing that can keep you stuck, weigh you down and limit your greater calling. It’s not even that the thing is bad – it might be very very good, in fact. If kept in the proper perspective and if utilized in the proper way.
I think we all have a spiritual kryptonite. For some it may be material possessions. For some it may be power or recognition. For some it may be even a desire in your heart that, left unchecked, can set itself up above God. Can we use those things to serve God well – maybe even, as a tool, to serve Him better? Absolutely. But we must disarm that thing in our hearts so that we keep God in His proper place…
First. Best. Worthy of everything – and anything.
He won’t have it any other way.