Five Lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson Four: Sacrifice
“‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.”‘ Mark10:21.
When I think of the word lack, I think about something I don’t have, something I’m missing. In this verse, the lack that Jesus refers to is sacrifice. The rich man could do all the easy stuff, but when it came time to place his total dependence on Christ and allow him to provide for his daily needs, he couldn’t do it. He wore his wealth like a security blanket, wrapping himself in the warmth of his own independence and ability to pay his own way in life.
Disciples must be willing to sacrifice everything to follow Jesus. I find it interesting that he already demonstrated this requirement of sacrifice by calling Simon, Andrew, John and James. They,upon hearing Jesus’ call to follow Him, “at once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18). These four disciples had just as much to lose as the rich young man. All four had fathers who trained them to be fishermen from when they were children so they could make a living for themselves when they grew older. By getting up, they were leaving behind the only trade they knew for a chance to place their trust in someone who promised to provide for them physically and spiritually.
Those four disciples sacrificed the security of wealth for a chance to put their trust in the Lord. The rich young man didn’t. Which disciple are you?
Challenge: What role does wealth place in your life? Do you cling to your wealth, or would you give it up for a chance to trust in the Lord’s provision?
Five Lessons about Discipleship from the Rich Young Ruler: Lesson Three: Compassion
“Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him…”Mark 10:19.
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the rich young ruler seem a bit prideful up until this point? He asked Jesus what he has to do to become His disciple. When Jesus answers him, he responds with a flippant “I already know that.” Talk about boldness! The rich young ruler probably thought he could order Jesus around like he did with many of his servants that catered to his every whim. But does Jesus respond with a “Do you know who you are talking to?” response? He models God’s mercy and grace with a compassionate, heartfelt reply.
I think Jesus still honored the fact that this young man understood who Jesus was (at least in a superficial way) and acknowledged him as Lord. Jesus still allowed him to become His disciple, if he was willing to sacrifice the one idol that stood between him and Jesus: money.
Many times throughout my years of a Christian, I’ve become frustrated with people who, in my estimation, should “get it” when it comes to discipleship. There are moments when I just want to shake certain people and ask “Why aren’t you more mature?” In my arrogance, however, I’ve missed the point that being a disciple means more than just knowing the Word of God, it’s also applying it. Extending compassion to someone who isn’t where I am at spiritually is a good place to start.
Challenge: In what ways have you failed to exemplify Christ through a lack of compassion? Is there someone God has placed in you life in which you need to extend more compassion?
“You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”– Mark 10:17-18
As Christians, we know there is a great cost to being a disciple. It’s easy to keep the commandments that we find we struggle with the least. In the rich young ruler’s life, he found it easy to honor his mother and father, not to steal or lie. It was easy for him because because his wealth and status in the community permitted him to have every luxury at his fingertips. So often we wear our righteousness as a badge, that somehow if people see us keeping the basic tenets of the faith they will know we are Chrisitans. Discipleship is not only about doing the easy things, but doing the more difficult things as well.
Challenge: What area of your life do you struggle with the most? If Jesus asked you how you were doing in that area of struggle, what would you say?
“‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Why do you call me good? no one is good except God alone.”‘ Mark 10:17
Jesus spent His time on earth imitating what He learned from his father. One of the major lessons He learned was the importance of humility. It wasn’t enough He chose to strip Himself of every power He had earned simply for being God’s son, but He chose to not receive the credit for any of the miracles He performed from any of the people He helped. Jesus, a disciple of His Father, deflected the glory from Himself and placed it on the One to whom it belonged. True disciples don’t use their influence to stroke their egos or feed their insecurities. They use their influence to give glory to their Teacher.
Challenge: When you minister to others, do you do so out of selfless compassion or out of selfish ambition? What ways can you deflect the glory from yourself and onto God?
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