October 11, 2009
Proper 22
Mark 10:17-31

I often get stock tips in my e-mail. But what I am giving you here are not tips but the truth about how to gain imperishable riches: truth that comes from one of the most well-known passages in the New Testament. This truth is about a rich young ruler’s encounter with Christ. In it every believer must come face to face with the costs-the economics of true faith-of following Jesus Christ.
There are three personal, spiritual, economic decisions that everyone must make in order to follow Jesus as Lord.

I. You Need to Divest (vv. 17-27)
A man runs up to Jesus. We call him the rich young ruler because when we put Matthew, Mark and Luke together that is what we get. And we can put together what we must be divested of in order to follow Jesus.
A. Be divested of zeal without knowledge. There can be no mistake this man had zeal, enthusiasm. He ran to Jesus, and he called Jesus “good teacher.” But did he really know who Jesus was?
One of the things that can actually stand in the way of our relationship with God is zeal, an enthusiasm that is not wed to scriptural revelation. Being excited about religion is not the same as trusting in Christ as Savior.
B. Be divested of self-righteousness. This rich young ruler thought he had it all, based on what he had done. There is no doubt this young man was probably right. He had kept the law outwardly. What we are dealing with here, my friends, is a “goody, goody two shoes,” as he is called. Whether it is, “Creed, cult or conduct” (Robert Capon), man is always seeking to promote himself before God. But the gospel tells us that we cannot come to God based on our righteousness. We divest ourselves of self. We come to Jesus just as we are, without one plea.
C. Be divested of the “one thing.” We must also divest ourselves of what Jesus called “one thing.” He looks at the young man; and as He was looking at the man, He loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing.” And that thing was the thing keeping him from God: his wealth.
My beloved, what is the “one thing” that keeps you from Jesus Christ?

II. You Need to Invest (vv. 28-30)
We see here what we all know: the “economics of faith is not just something that poor, self-righteous Pharisees struggle with. Material security is something well-meaning, earnest disciples of Jesus struggle with. For in the face of this episode, Peter declared: “See, we have left everything and followed you” (Mark 10:28).
How does Christ respond? To follow Jesus involves losses of real estate and relationships. Christ promises not health and wealth, rather a hundred-fold return with persecutions. But it is in the age to come, in eternal life.
So how do we gain eternal security if we are seeking God? The same way we seek security as a disciple. Divest of what hinders us from finding true security in Christ. Invest in the kingdom of God, which is the only thing that will last.
The first will be last and the last first. Follow Christ. He will take care of all of our needs. True faith begins with this: “I divest my life of all pretense. I invest my life totally in You, O Christ. For You are my only security. You are my only treasure.”

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About The Author


Michael A. Milton is a theologian, pastor, broadcaster, author, professor, U.S. Army Reserves chaplain, and musician. He's founder and president of Faith For Living, Inc. a North Carolina religious non-profit engaged in Christian discipleship, education, and communication. He is also the author of several books.

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