A rich young ruler watched Jesus blessing the children, healing the sick and teaching the people, and he believed in Jesus as the Messiah.
When the Teacher turned to leave, the young ruler ran after him “Good Master,” he said, as he knelt before Jesus, “what good things should I do that I may have eternal life?”
Jesus looked at the young man. He loved him and wanted to help him.
“You know the commandments,” He said. “Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother.”
Jesus was repeating God’s law that had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai hundreds of years before. Even though this was very old, Jesus taught the people it was still the law He wanted them to keep. Jesus kept this law and taught His disciples to keep it.
“It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one small stroke of the law to fail,” Jesus told the people.
This is the law we will keep, too, if we love God. All of Jesus’ followers and all those who love God will keep God’s law; they will obey His commandments.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments,” Jesus said to His disciples.
We honor His name when we speak it reverently, when we act like Him, when we are reverent in church and during prayer.
When we love God more than money or things we own, we are keeping the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Another god could be a desire for money, fame, luxury, freedom from responsibility, pleasures, music, or even certain friends. Anything or anyone we care about more than we care about God is an idol to us. Anything or anyone we let lead us away from God is an idol.
Different people have different idols, but God says we must give up all our idols, whatever they are. All that we have and all that we are belong to Him and are to be used in His service.
Drugs, tobacco, and alcohol can be idols. Also, when we use these things, we are breaking the commandment that says, “You shall not murder,” because these things shorten our lives. When we use them, we are slowly murdering ourselves.
If we love God, we will honor our parents, obeying them, never doing anything that will hurt or shame them. We will not steal; we will respect other people and their property; we will be honest; we will keep our bodies and minds clean and pure. “I have kept all these commandments since I was a child,” the rich young ruler said, after listening to Jesus repeat some of His commandment. “What do I still lack.”
He knew there was something more he needed to do, but he didn’t know what it was. The young man had kept the law just as a list of rules, and that is not really keeping it at all. The law must be kept, but it can only be kept with a loving heart.
Tenderly, lovingly, Jesus answered, “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.”
Jesus knew this was the big test. He knew the rich young ruler loved his money and his position in the nation and church. The young man had a great future before him in earthly places. Would that be more important to him than following Jesus?
Selfishness was small in the young man now, but if he didn’t give his heart and his money to God, that selfishness would grow until he would be useless in the Kingdom of God. Oh, how Jesus longed to receive the heart of this young man! How He longed to welcome him into His kingdom.
“But when the young man heard that saying,” the Bible tells us, “He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
One day a lawyer asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The rich young ruler would not keep the greatest commandment. He did not want to share with others. Money, position and possessions were his idols.
If we let Him, God will fill us with His love until there is no more room for self. Jesus said: “I have declared to them Your name . . . That the love with which you loved Me may be in them.” He said to His disciples and He says to us, “Ask, and you shall receive.”
When we are filled with God’s love, we will show our love for Him by keeping His law.
Read the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-29, and in Luke 18:18-30. Read what the Bible says in these texts about love and the law: Psalm 119:165, Luke 16:16, Matthew 5:17-19, Mark 2:27 and 28, Matthew 12:12, John 15:10, 12-14, Romans 3:31 and James 2:8-11.
The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20:3-17. Our Treasure Chest verse tells us why they are important . . . To show God we really do love Him.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15