17 So He said to him, “ Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “ If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19:16-17, 20-22 (emphasis added)
This is the tragic moment of a rich man who met Jesus personally and asked Him the most important question anyone can ask - "What can I do to have eternal life?"
Jesus baited him with keeping the commandments. We really can get to heaven through personal perfection - but only the most prideful really believe deep down that they have reached sinless perfection! Ultimately Jesus came to the real problem - the covetousness of the young man! His riches had taken possession of his soul!
This man faced the moment of truth - that moment when we all must decide if we will surrender our false beliefs for the sake of the truth or continue in our own version of reality!
Sadly, the rich young ruler chose the latter! Tragically, many have followed his example throughout the centuries after Jesus spoke these words! Why do we do that? Why are so many willing to accept a lie rather than face reality?
Deception seems the most obvious answer. One believes that somehow his version of reality will supplant God's. Others may actually believe that they will eventually be judged but are duped into thinking that it will somehow be worth it. This is especially true when we are young. After all, old age, death and the judgment seem so far away!
Great men of the Bible made the opposite choice when they faced their personal moment of truth!
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son because he trusted so fully that God was able to raise him from the dead! (See Hebrews 11 ) Moses lived in the comforts of the royal palace in Egypt - yet He forsook all to suffer with his Hebrew brothers because he knew the pleasures would only last for a season! Paul was a "rising star" among the Pharisees - but counted it all as rubbish when he met the living Jesus!
Many scientists, politicians and wealthy people have a lot to lose if they acknowledge the truth! So when their moment of truth comes, they choose to hide it, cover it and bury it! They choose the passing pleasures of success, fame, wealth and status!
How tragic that the rich young ruler "walked away in a state of sorrow!"
It saddens me to think that one day, all of those who chose passing pleasures over truth will stand before God one day. I picture that day that will come to every one of us. On that day all of fame, stated or wealth a person enjoyed will come to a screeching halt! On that day, No on who was envied or worshipped for who they were or what they had in this life will no longer care. It will all be behind them as though it never existed!
Those who accepted the truth when it stood before them will not care about the past either.. The difference is that they will rejoice that the past is gone because it is being replaced by an unimaginable eternal future! Millenniums in the distant future, those who follow Christ will be just getting started!
In the words of the famous song, Amazing Grace...
When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun!
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