Humble Hero


The Rich Young Ruler Lacked One Thing

This chapter is based on Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23.

“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’” HH 239.1

This young man, a ruler, had many possessions and a position of responsibility. He saw the love that Christ showed toward the children, and his heart burned with love for the Savior. He was so deeply moved that He ran after Christ and, kneeling at His feet, asked sincerely and earnestly the question so important to his life and to every human being. HH 239.2

“Why do you call Me good?” said Christ. “No one is good but One, that is, God.” Jesus wanted to draw from him in what way he regarded Him as good. Did he realize that the One to whom he was speaking was the Son of God? What was the true feeling of his heart? HH 239.3

This ruler had a high opinion of his own righteousness, yet he felt the lack of something he did not possess. Could Jesus bless him and satisfy his heart’s craving? HH 239.4

In reply, Jesus told him that obedience to the commandments of God was necessary if he wanted to obtain eternal life. The ruler’s answer was positive: “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” HH 239.5

Christ looked into the face of the young man as if reading his life and searching his character. He loved him and hungered to give him peace and joy. “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” HH 239.6

Christ was drawn to this young man. The Redeemer longed to create in him the power to see the necessity of heart devotion. He longed to see in him a humble and repentant heart, hiding its shortcomings in the perfection of Christ. HH 239.7

In this ruler Jesus saw just the help He needed in the work of salvation. If he would place himself under Christ’s guidance, he would be a power for good. Christ, seeing into his character, loved him. Love for Christ was awakening in the ruler’s heart, for love produces love. Jesus longed to see him become a coworker with Him. He longed to develop the excellence of his character and to sanctify it to the Master’s use. If the ruler had then given himself to Christ, how different would have been his future! HH 239.8

“You still lack one thing,” Jesus said. “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Christ read the ruler’s heart. Only one thing he lacked, but that was a vital principle. He needed the love of God at the core of his life. If this lack went unfilled, it would prove fatal. His whole nature would become corrupted. In order for him to receive the love of God, he must surrender his supreme love of self. HH 240.1

Christ called for him to choose between heavenly treasure and worldly greatness. Self must yield; he must give his will into Christ’s control. The young ruler had the privilege of becoming a co-heir with Christ to the heavenly treasure. But he must take up the cross and follow the Savior in the path of self-denial. HH 240.2

The choice was left with him. Jesus had shown him the fatal spot in his character. If he decided to follow Christ, he must obey His words in everything. He must turn from his ambitious projects. With earnest, anxious longing, the Savior looked at the young man, hoping he would yield to the invitation of the Spirit of God. HH 240.3

Christ’s words were words of wisdom, though they appeared severe. The ruler’s only hope of salvation was in accepting and obeying them. His position and possessions were exerting a subtle influence for evil on his character. If he cherished them, they would replace God in his affections. HH 240.4