This morning I read the parable of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30. He comes to Jesus and asks, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” I think it’s so interesting that Jesus doesn’t give the standard evangelical response of, “You don’t have to work for your salvation, silly. You’re saved by grace through faith, and not by works. It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.” Instead, Jesus tells this young man exactly what he needs to do in order to have eternal life: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
As Jesus explains what commandments need to be kept, the young man exclaims, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” When Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Jesus, the young man goes away sad, “for he had great possessions.”
I think it is ironic that this young man, who had great possessions, asked Jesus what he lacked for eternal life. He didn’t lack anything, and that’s the point! In order to enter life, we must lack. Only when we have nothing but Jesus do we have everything we need for eternal life. Jesus brought this young man to the mirror and pointed out that he didn’t need anything, and that was the problem. Unless we need Jesus, we will not receive his life.
Reading this story, I felt the Holy Spirit prodding me to ask myself, “Where do I lack? And where in my life have I lost the need for Jesus?” For me, starting as Lead Pastor of this wonderful church has painted a billboard in my life of where I need the Lord’s help! But there are other areas where I don’t lack, and in these corners of my heart, I need to sell all my possessions and follow Jesus. As the Apostle Paul said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
My prayer this week is that God will reveal to us where we lack, and where we think we don’t, so that we may lose assurance in ourselves and gain dependence on God.