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August 21 – Applying the First Command

Read Matthew 19:16-20 

            Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus with a question – “What good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?” The question itself indicates an understanding that there is more to life than meets the eye. The fact that he came to Jesus indicates that he thought Jesus was a powerful, perhaps even unique, teacher.

The young man had standing in the community. He was young and rich. That combination of traits would have made him remarkable. He would have been viewed as being particularly blessed by God. Luke added the detail that he was a ruler. He would have been well-known.

He must have thought he was doing all right. 

An Unexpected Answer 

            Jesus responded to his question by saying, “You know the commands – keep them.” The young man then asked, “Which ones?”

“Which ones?” An upstanding member of the Jewish community would have known all of them from childhood.

“Which ones?” Are some of them optional?

Jesus answered with Commands 5 through 9 – all of which have to do with human to human relationships! (The tenth Command is “You shall not covet.” Jesus didn’t mention that one. Hmm….)

“I’ve done all of that,” said the young man.

Jesus said, “OK, it’s time to put away your idols. Sell your possessions, give to the poor, and follow me.” In other words, worship God and Him alone.

The rich young ruler walked away because he had many possessions and he worshipped them. 

            What things tend to get in the way of your relationship with God?


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