AN INVITATION TO EXPERIENCE A SPIRITUAL LIFE – PT. 3

Posted: April 28, 2012 in Books, Christianity, Education, Family, History, Life, Lifestyle, News, Parenting, Quotes, Uncategorized

“And you will have treasure in heaven.”

– Matthew 19:21b NIV

I do not believe Jesus was condemning the rich young ruler because he was rich. In fact, I do not believe Jesus was condemning the young man at all. I do believe the young man left feeling condemned, convicted about what he had not considered prior to his conversation with Jesus regarding the commandment to love God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe, only now, was he being held accountable to a lifestyle that may not have been something he considered consciously, day-to-day, prior to coming to Jesus inquiring about eternal life, because of his conversation with Jesus. Prior to his encounter he felt secure in himself and sure about his standing and place in life, but after his conversation he must have felt uncertain about his eternal security and his spiritual standing with God. If I put myself in the shoes of the rich young ruler, I would feel discouraged by that conversation, but sincere seeking to understand eternal life would prompt me to return to Jesus realizing the significance, value and worth of my eternal standing with God, from a spiritual perspective, as he felt the same security and standing with his wealth and status in life from a wordly perspective.

As the rich young ruler, we may miss the significance of what Jesus stated when he said, ‘Then you will have treasure in heaven.’ Maybe the young man was not present the day of Christ’s inaugural sermonic series preached on the subject of the kingdom of heaven and the principles of Christ’s teachings involved with sincere seeking declared in the sermon on the mount. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.” – Matthew 6:19-21, 33 NIV  

The rich young man may not have been told about the sermon Jesus preached that day. Because of the light of scripture, hindsight helps us to see the conflict in the discourse between the young man and Jesus and the internal conflict the young man had when he walked away, which is why the bible acknowledged the young man as having great wealth. In all that the young man had, it blinded him from attaining what he lacked in order to inherit eternal life. I do not judge him, because I know I have walked away sad and discouraged from what Jesus requires of me to experience the spiritual life He came for me to have many times. My own righteousness will never be sufficient to justify myself before God to inherit eternal life, or receive from God what He promises in his word without obedience to His word. This was Cain’s downfall (see Genesis 4). Cain thought he could experience God’s favor without doing what God required. God reminded Cain he needed to do what was right, but Cain ignored God and eventually killed his brother Abel and lived the rest of his days wandering and worried about retribution for his actions. It is not God’s desire for us to wander aimlessly disconnected from Him in this world, or to worry with condemnation, guilt and fear about retribution from Him due to past sins, mistakes and failures.

Persistence in seeking to experience the recognition and reward of the principles of success in this world will cause us to miss out on the greater significance of what Jesus tried to convey to the rich young man and those who listened to Him preach that day in the sermon on the mount. Jesus reveals to us, through scripture, the success God desires for us to encounter from a spiritual life that can only be encountered through a faith walk with Jesus Christ. The rich young man already had great wealth, but the spiritual life that could only be obtained through faith in Christ is what he lacked. Though he had great wealth, he would not be able to do what was required because his treasure was in his wealth and not in what God desired for him, or required of him.

In Luke’s gospel (Luke 19), after His encounter with the rich young man, Jesus encounters Zacchaeus the Tax Collector. His sincerity in seeking out Jesus prompted him to get up in a tree to see Jesus walking through the place where he was and caused him to be noticed by Jesus when Jesus arrived at the place where Zacchaeus was. Sincere seeking gets the attention of God to notice us where we are in life and experience Him intimately. Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down and take Him to his home. Zacchaeus declared openly to Jesus a willingness to give up to half of his possessions to the poor and pay back 4 times the amount to anyone he had wronged when Jesus came into his home. ‘Today!’ Jesus declared, that salvation had come to Zacchaeus. The difference between Zacchaeus and the rich young man? Zacchaeus recognized Jesus for who He is and his need to humble himself in recognition of his own lack before the righteousness of Christ who appeared before him. Zacchaeus humbled himself and positioned himself as one in need, operating by the very principles Jesus preached about seeking sincerely God’s kingdom and His righteousness. To some, Jesus would declare that the kingdom of God is at hand, referring to Himself, and Zacchaeus recognized it. The rich young ruler did not.

In the same way Jesus became poor for us (making a sacrifice) that we might become rich with the righteousness of His person through the indwelling person, presence and power of His Spirit living inside of us, Zacchaeus displayed the sincere humility Jesus challenged the rich young man to follow that Christ modeled. Notice also, Zacchaeus demonstrated these actions without prompting from Christ through direct conversation. Being drawn to Christ by God, Zacchaeus responded to God’s prompting and the rich young man resisted it, because his wealth inhibited him from obtaining what he sincerely desired. Storing up treasure in heaven begins with surrendering your heart, mind, soul and will to God through faith in Christ.

May God bless you and help you to respond to His prompting inside of you to position yourself in a way that gets His attention to come to you and help you experience the fullness of life Christ came for you to have.

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