Sermons

Too Rich?

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Mark 10:17-31 includes the account of an encounter that Jesus has with a young man who has come to be known as the “Rich Young Ruler.” Can it be possible that this man was too rich? Did his possessions become a hindrance to his faith?
The interaction begins with the young man showing Jesus as he approaches Christ, bows at his feet and asks the Teacher what he must do to inherit eternal life (v. 17). Jesus responds by assuming that the young man knew the commandments he was required to keep and listed out a few as an example: not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal or lie or cheat, and to always honor one’s parents. It is interesting that every commandment Jesus lists are commandments that deal with the outward interaction with others. Jesus does not list the internal commandments of having no other gods but the true God, making no idols, not using the Lord’s name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath. These commandments were the ones concerned about an individual’s relationship with God.
From the list Jesus gives, the young man responds that he has kept all of these since he was young. Jesus cuts right to the heart of the matter: “One thing you lack….Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Jesus, knowing the man’s heart, pointed out that the man had not kept all of the commandments. He did not even get past the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). The young man had another god before the true God. The name of his god was “Money.”
The young man’s response to Jesus says everything about where his heart is: “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Mark 10:22). The man’s wealth is more important to him than God. He would rather have the riches of life than answer the call of God on his heart. He chooses his stuff over God.
We learn some valuable truths from this encounter. First, even though the young man’s heart was away from God, Jesus loved him. Right before telling the young man what he lacks, the text says that “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21). Even though this man would not choose to place his faith in Christ, Jesus still loves him. Are you away from the Lord? Jesus loves you deeply. You can respond to that love today.
Also, Jesus refuses to compromise in order to win a convert. The call of God is the same for all: you must put Him first. Nothing else will suffice. God will not settle for second place. He doesn’t deserve that. He’s God. And, our lives are better when we put Him first. He knows what is best.
After hearing the offer of Jesus, the man goes away sad. The truth of his heart is revealed. He loves money more than God. When God sees the truth of your heart, what does He see? Are you willing to put God first in your life? Or, are you too rich for God, too?

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