The interaction between Jesus and the rich young, man of Matthew 19:16-30 is once again the event I bring to your attention. However, the important point I desire you to draw from today's study is that wealth is not the only relationship killer out there. I know that statement is common sense to many, if not most people, but a relationship with Christ Jesus is in the balance where concerning eliminating certain strongholds from your life.

The man asked Jesus, "What good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Instead of giving the man the entire Law of Moses, Jesus supplies the man with some important, heavy-hitters - "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself." I can see the young man making a mental checklist as Jesus names these off. The man then declares, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" I would say, first of all kudos for being upstanding enough to have these matters covered in your life young man. Second, to ask what you still lack is also a good move.

The only problem with the rich, young man's or anyone's good efforts is God always knows our motives and weaknesses. Not that we should not try, but God desires to be our motive in life and have our weaknesses surrendered to Him so He can display His power made perfect in our weakness(es) (2 Cor. 12:9).

Christ's answer to the man's question of "What do I still lack?" was three-fold - (1) sell your possessions, (2) give to the poor and (3) follow me.

  • “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.”
Here comes the first pitch - "go, sell your possessions". The rich, young man is just that - rich. He is not about to part with the items that he has bought that declare his prominence in society. Strike One!

Here comes the 0-1 pitch - "give to the poor". Are you kidding?! If he is not parting with his wealth to sell his material acquisitions, he sure is not going to just give it to some stranger. Strike Two!

The young, rich man is down in the count. Can he come back and at least get a base hit? Here comes the 0-2 pitch - "come, follow me". Do you remember what following Jesus cost the Disciples? Their jobs, families, friends and familiar surroundings. I am sure this rich, young man knew this also and counted his wealth as more important than a relationship with the person he considered an expert on "good things"Yet, in recognizing Jesus as such - the rich, young man still clung to his personal accomplishment, maybe even hangup or trapping - wealth. 

When the dust seemingly settled from this encounter, Peter stepped up and addressed Jesus' engagement with the rich, young man. My Pritchard Paraphrased version of Peter's words go something like this - "Jesus, we have sold our possessions, given to the poor and chosen to follow you. We know what the young man chose, but what happens to us as we stay on with you?"

"Jesus said to them, 'Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.'"

For the Original Twelve Disciples, one of their rewards is a throne upon which they will sit administering judgment on the twelve tribes of Israel. Then Jesus turns His attention to everyone else who has declared their faith in Him and given up a great sacrifice. Their reward is two-fold, "a hundred times as much" and "eternal life". I don't know if the rich, young man knew the rewards for obeying the remaining instructions of Jesus. I am led to believe that would not have made a difference because of the stronghold of wealth in his life. The giving up of wealth for a relationship with Christ would have been an awesome sacrifice for the rich, young man. 

Even though Christians know Jesus as the expert on "good things", as the rich, young man did, I believe there are major obstacles in our lives which dominate our choice of relationship. So, it is time for each of us to step up to the spiritual Home Plate and answer - Can you give your whole life to Christ (sell all your possessions)? Can you love others as Christ loved you (give to the poor)? Will you align yourself with Jesus' ways (come, follow me)? Or will you hold on to the temporary fixation that has empty fulfillment? How Much Do You Value His Relationship?