4 – Rich and Still Poor

4 – Rich and Still Poor2015-10-25T23:26:50+00:00

Sabbath, July 27, 2013

“Christ’s dealing with the young man is presented as an object lesson. God has given us the rule of conduct which every one of His servants must follow. It is obedience to His law, not merely a legal obedience, but an obedience which enters into the life, and is exemplified in the character. God has set His own standard of character for all who would become subjects of His  kingdom. Only those who will become co-workers with Christ, only those who will say, Lord, all I have and all I am is Thine, will be acknowledged as sons and daughters of God. All should consider what it means to desire heaven, and yet to turn away because of the conditions laid down. Think of what it means to say ‘No’ to Christ.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 523.

Showing interest and humility

1. What question did a young ruler ask the Saviour of the world? How respectful were his speech and behavior?

Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Luke 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

“He was a member of the honored council of the Jews….

“The young man who asked this question was a ruler. He had great possessions, and occupied a position of responsibility. He saw the love that Christ manifested toward the children brought to Him; he saw how tenderly He received them, and took them up in His arms, and his heart kindled with love for the Saviour. He felt a desire to be His disciple. He was so deeply moved that as Christ was going on His way, he ran after Him, and kneeling at His feet, asked with sincerity and earnestness the question so important to his soul and to the soul of every human being, ‘Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ ” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 520, 518.

2. To whom did Jesus lead the ruler’s mind? How did He answer the man’s question?

Mark 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

“Jesus was free from all sin and error; there was not a trace of imperfection in His life or character. He maintained spotless purity under circumstances the most trying. True, He declared, ‘There is none good but one, that is, God’; but again He said, ‘I and My Father are one.’ Jesus speaks of Himself as well as the Father as God, and claims for Himself perfect righteousness.” –(MS 141, 1901) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 929.

“ ‘Why callest thou Me good?’ said Christ, ‘there is none good but One, that is, God.’ Jesus desired to test the ruler’s sincerity, and to draw from him the way in which he regarded Him as good. Did he realize that the One to whom he was speaking was the Son of God? What was the true sentiment of his heart?” –The Desire of Ages, p. 518.

Foundation and goal of the commandments

3. What do the five commandments that Jesus mentioned have in common? Why did He put the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself at the end of His answer?

Matthew 19:18, 19 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:8, 9 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“ ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ Very many who profess to be Christ’s disciples will apparently pass along smoothly in this world, and will be regarded as upright, godly men, when they have a plague spot at the core, which taints their whole character and corrupts their religious experience. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ This forbids us to take advantage of our fellow men in order to advantage ourselves. We are forbidden to wrong our neighbor in anything. We should not view the matter from the worldling’s standpoint. To deal with our fellow men in every instance just as we should wish them to deal with us is a rule which we should apply to ourselves practically. God’s laws are to be obeyed to the letter. In all our intercourse and deal with our fellow men, whether believers or unbelievers, this rule is to be applied: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 43.

You lack one thing

4. From his answer, may we say that the young man was satisfied with his life? Did he really understand the deep message of Jesus?

Mark 10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

“This ruler had a high estimate of his own righteousness. He did not really suppose that he was defective in anything, yet he was not altogether satisfied. He felt the want of something that he did not possess. Could not Jesus bless him as He blessed the little children, and satisfy his soul want?…

“His claim that he had kept the law of God was a deception. He showed that riches were his idol. He could not keep the commandments of God while the world was first in his affections. He loved the gifts of God more than he loved the Giver.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 518, 520.

5. Was obedience to the Ten Commandments not sufficient through the grace and help of the Lord to give one eternal life? Why did Jesus add the additional requirement?

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

“Christ was drawn to this young man. He knew him to be sincere in his assertion, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth.’ The Redeemer longed to create in him that discernment which would enable him to see the necessity of heart devotion and Christian goodness. He longed to see in him a humble and contrite heart, conscious of the supreme love to be given to God, and hiding its lack in the perfection of Christ….

“ ‘One thing thou lackest,’ Jesus said. ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me.’ Christ read the ruler’s heart. Only one thing he lacked, but that was a vital principle. He needed the love of God in the soul. This lack, unless supplied, would prove fatal to him; his whole nature would become corrupted. By indulgence, selfishness would strengthen. That he might receive the love of God, his supreme love of self must be surrendered.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 519.

Significance of the ruler’s decision

6. What reveals the decision made by the young man when he heard the Saviour’s answer? Are we not doing the same when we cling to our own ideas and attitudes?

Matthew 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Luke 18:23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

“Christ gave this man a test. He called upon him to choose between the heavenly treasure and worldly greatness. The heavenly treasure was assured him if he would follow Christ. But self must yield; his will must be given into Christ’s control. The very holiness of God was offered to the young ruler. He had the privilege of becoming a son of God, and a coheir with Christ to the heavenly treasure. But he must take up the cross, and follow the Saviour in the path of self-denial….

“Christ’s words were verily to the ruler the invitation, ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve.’ Joshua 24:15. The choice was left with him. Jesus was yearning for his conversion. He had shown him the plague spot in his character, and with what deep interest He watched the issue as the young man weighed the question! If he decided to follow Christ, he must obey His words in everything. He must turn from his ambitious projects. With what earnest, anxious longing, what soul hunger, did the Saviour look at the young man, hoping that he would yield to the invitation of the Spirit of God!” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 519, 520.

7. What is a serious problem for rich people? What counsel did Jesus give so one may overcome this and other obstacles in the way to heaven?

Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 18:24, 25 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:20, first part, 21 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:33, first part But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.

“Christ made the only terms which could place the ruler where he would perfect a Christian character. His words were words of wisdom, though they appeared severe and exacting. In accepting and obeying them was the ruler’s only hope of salvation. His exalted position and his possessions were exerting a subtle influence for evil upon his character. If cherished, they would supplant God in his affections. To keep back little or much from God was to retain that which would lessen his moral strength and efficiency; for if the things of this world are cherished, however uncertain and unworthy they may be, they will become all-absorbing….

“When Christ’s followers give back to the Lord His own, they are accumulating treasure which will be given to them when they shall hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;… enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’ ‘Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Matthew 25:23; Hebrews 12:2.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 520, 523.

For meditation

“Christ had offered the young man fellowship with Himself. ‘Follow Me,’ He said. But the Saviour was not so much to him as his own name among men or his possessions. To give up his earthly treasure, that was seen, for the heavenly treasure, that was unseen, was too great a risk. He refused the offer of eternal life, and went away, and ever after the world was to receive his worship. Thousands are passing through this ordeal, weighing Christ against the world; and many choose the world. Like the young ruler, they turn from the Saviour, saying in their hearts, I will not have this Man as my leader.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 520, 523.

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