I’m judgmental; I admit it. I wish I wasn’t and try not to be, but I am. I wrongly judge other people and place them on my scale of ‘appropriateness’ based on my own life experiences, thoughts or beliefs. Sadly, my judging doesn’t stop there. I judge the people of the Bible and the choices they make just as harshly. In my misplaced superiority, I have for years read the story of the ‘rich, young ruler’ and stood throwing stones at this poor man and never once realized it’s a story about my own heart.
Here’s a brief recap in case it’s been awhile. We find this story in Mark 10:17-27. The story begins when Jesus is stopped on his way out of town by a man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to “inherit eternal life.” Jesus then tells the man that he must keep the commandments:
“Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honor your father and mother.”
The rich, young ruler replies in verse 20:
“Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
It’s important not dismiss the man’s response so quickly. He very clearly states that he knows the commandments and has been following God’s law since he was young. To be this obedient requires a good amount of effort and shows that living a godly life was important to him. It was likely something he had prayed about consistently. I can’t even say that I have done the same. As the daughter of a Southern Baptist Minister, I can relate to being aware of God’s commandments since my youth and trying to uphold them.
Jesus knew that even though following God’s law was important, it wasn’t more important than his financial security. It’s easy to judge this if this isn’t our issue. But we all have a stronghold..maybe it’s unforgiveness, maybe it’s submission, maybe it’s respectfulness, maybe it is financial security. How often have we prayed for something we want God to change, but in the same breath refuse to do the one thing He’s asking us to do. To forgive and treat lovingly the person that deeply hurt us. To submit to our boss or our spouse when we don’t think they deserve it or we believe they are clearly wrong. Maybe it’s treating respectfully our children or our neighbor or that one coworker or family member who we don’t like. Maybe it is being willing to give our money to God and being willing to trust Him to provide.
It’s easy to judge someone who is struggling with an issue we’re not. What’s not easy, is when you realize you’re just as guilty, maybe more, within your own area of struggle. If it were easy to follow Christ, then we’d ALL do it. But we don’t. We sit back and check our Sunday morning church attendance box and think giving my ENTIRE life over to God is great for that person, but God doesn’t understand…what? Doesn’t understand your responsibilities? Your hurt? Your pain? Your struggles? What is it exactly you think God doesn’t understand about your life?
The rich young ruler wanted eternal life, but he wanted financial comfort and security in THIS life more. What are you asking God for, but not willing to give up to receive it? Are you asking for a better marriage, but not willing to treat your spouse with love and honor regardless of how they treat you? Are you asking for a better job and financial security, but not willing to tithe and help others with the finances you have now? Are you asking God to promote you into your calling, but not willing to humble yourself to the people who’ve hurt you and ask for THEIR forgiveness?
Whatever your struggle, I hope you’ll learn from the rich young ruler and realize that Jesus is looking lovingly at you too wanting you to realize how much MORE you will gain if you’ll simply lay down your stronghold too.