Matthew 19:16-22 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
This account is found in all 3 synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Putting all 3 accounts together, we find out that this man is young, wealthy, and in a ruling position. Scholars believe that he might have been a Pharisee because of his claim of strict adherence to the law since he was young. Mark records that he ran up to Jesus and knelt before him to pose the question. He must have perceived Jesus to be an authority because he is asking him about eternity.
1. A couple things to note:
a. The young man did not believe Jesus was the Messiah and would have had no concept of being saved by grace through faith in Christ. He was asking the question based on righteousness achieved through what you do. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
b. Jesus was not promoting salvation by works but answering his question in this context. He answered it to prove to him how flawed his original premise was.
c. The young ruler, even after his strict adherence to the law, knew there was something missing. “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”
2. The temptation to compartmentalize.
“All these I have kept, what do I lack?” To the man’s credit, he sensed there was something missing from his life - something beyond just keeping the rules, so he poses the question to Jesus.
Compartmentalization can be very useful at times. Psychology Today definition of Compartmentalization: Compartmentalization is a defense mechanism in which people mentally separate conflicting thoughts, emotions, or experiences to avoid the discomfort of contradiction. Common examples of this in the workplace include jobs that are extremely stressful: soldiers and first responders. Compartmentalization allows them to deal with enormous amounts of stress and loss but still maintain the ability to function at home.
Spiritual Compartmentalization: Temptation to separate our lives up between “real life” and our spiritual life. Work, friends, hobbies are in one box and church is in another. The young man who came to Jesus had boxed up different parts of his life and never addressed the idea of them clashing together. “When your work buddy meets your pastor…”
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul is appealing for the church to offer themselves totally to God as sacrifices - not partially but totally. A sacrifice was given totally to the priest for worship. Don’t withhold anything. When we compartmentalize our spiritual life, we withhold areas and it is in those areas that infection grows.
3. Finances are a spiritual issue.
If you block out finances from your relationship with God then you are blocking him from blessing you. We are preventing His will being accomplished in our lives.
The young ruler had opened every box that he thought was relevant to the discussion until he realized he couldn’t hide any boxes from Jesus. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
It is naive to believe the thing we spend the majority of our day trying to accumulate and the rest of our day trying to manage would not be a topic God would be interested in. We spend a lot of time asking God for more and then ignoring Him when it comes to managing it.
God is not in the business of dictating where you spend every dollar, but He is in the business of setting you free from bondage. There is no part of God’s plan that includes part of you staying in bondage.
Jesus was offering the young ruler a freedom he could not imagine, and the finance box kept him from experiencing it. Keeping your finances in a box away from God will always produce more sorrow than joy.
22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The transformation of our thoughts was not meant for only certain boxes but for our whole being. It is they way we determine the perfect will of God for our lives.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
God’s will is where you will find the most joy, the most peace, and the most contentment. The question becomes, “Why would we only submit portions of our lives to Him and in turn only experience a fraction of the peace we could have?”