Lessons from the Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10:19-23 (ESV)
“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.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 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.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

The concept of God’s love towards us can sometimes blur the concept of grace in the minds of many a believer. God is indeed love and there is no way to measure its depth; He delights in showing His love to us but expects love in return (Matthew 22:37-38).

But love and grace are two different things, and in our verses above we can learn more about the difference.

The love of God does not negate His commandments. There is no change in His intolerance of sin and the demands of obedience for those who call on Jesus as their Savior. If there is no repentance of sin, grace should not be expected.

In John 14:23-24, Jesus reminds His disciples that the love a person returns to Him is based upon their ability to obey His words and to not do so is to reject Him and the One who sent Him.

As with the rich young ruler, we may feel we have true fellowship with the Lord, but if we have unrepentant sin we are deceiving ourselves. God certainly loved this young man, but the ruler’s eternal destiny was dictated not by the actions or level of love of Jesus, but in the young ruler’s response to God’s love.

He chose disobedience; a disobedience tied to his idolatrous lifestyle.

The rich young ruler had a choice that day on who to serve, and he chose poorly. It’s not about selling all of your acquired wealth, that’s not the moral of the story. Jesus saw a heart full of idols and He challenged the man to rethink what and Who should have the throne of his heart.

This could easily have been a story about any of us who are unwilling to give up our idols for Christ. Whether it is a favorite sin, a selfish focus, or a large amount of possessions, anything that takes precedence of the very Creator of love is wrong and is a sin.

Notice there is no compromise here. Jesus did not run back to him in an effort to beg him to change his mind. The rich young ruler made his decision.

We are not guaranteed a tomorrow, or even the next five minutes for that matter. Right now might be the last time you have to surrender the throne of your heart to Jesus.

Don’t run away from Him.