The Youth’s Instructor


May 20, 1897

“One Thing Thou Lackest”

Part 1.


“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” YI May 20, 1897, par. 1

The young man who came to Christ with this question was a ruler. He had great possessions, and occupied a position of responsibility. He saw the love that Christ manifested toward the children brought to him; he saw how lovingly he received them, and took them up in his arms; and his heart was kindled with love for Christ. He felt a desire to be his disciple. In the past he had endeavored to do his duty with strict integrity, and he desired the commendation of the Master. So deeply moved was he, that as Christ was going on his way, he ran to him, and kneeling at his feet, asked with sincerity and earnestness the question so important to his soul, and to the soul of every human being, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” YI May 20, 1897, par. 2

“Why callest thou me good?” said Christ, “there is none good but one, that is, God.” Jesus desired to test the ruler's sincerity, and to draw from him the way in which he regarded him as good. Did he realize that the One to whom he was speaking was the only begotten Son of God? What was the true sentiment of his soul? YI May 20, 1897, par. 3

This ruler had a high estimate of his own righteousness. He did not really suppose that he was defective in anything. He thought that there was no defect in his character, and yet he was not altogether satisfied. He felt the want of something that he did not possess. Could not Christ bless him as he blessed the little children, and satisfy his soul-want? YI May 20, 1897, par. 4

In reply to his question, Christ told him that obedience to the commandments of God was necessary if he would obtain eternal life, and he quoted several of the commandments which show man's duty to his fellow man. The ruler's answer was positive: “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” YI May 20, 1897, par. 5

Christ's searching eye looked into the face of the young man, as if reading his life and measuring his character. He loved him, and longed to give him that peace and grace and joy that would materially change his character. “One thing thou lackest,” he said; “go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” He told him that if he would have eternal life, he must obey God's requirements, lift the cross, and follow him. YI May 20, 1897, par. 6

Christ was drawn to the young ruler by the purity of his life. He accepted his words; for he knew him to be sincere in his assertion, “All these things have I observed from my youth.” O, what an earnest desire had the great Restorer to create in this young ruler that discernment that would enable him to see the necessity of loyal obedience, virtue, heart-devotion, and Christian goodness,—of a humble and contrite heart, conscious of the supreme love to be given to God, and hiding its lack in the perfection of Christ! YI May 20, 1897, par. 7

Christ saw in this young man just the help he needed, if he would become a co-laborer with him in the work of salvation. He saw that if he would place himself under his guidance, he would be a power for good. In a marked degree the ruler could have represented Christ; for he possessed qualifications which, if he had been united with Christ, would have enabled him to become a divine force among men. Christ, seeing his character, loved him. If he had made his choice for Christ then, how different would have been his future! YI May 20, 1897, par. 8

A love for Christ was awakening in the ruler's heart; for love begets love. How deeply Christ longed to see him a co-worker with him! He longed to make him equal with himself—a mirror in which Christ's likeness would be reflected. He longed to develop the excellency of his character, and sanctify it to the Master's use. If the ruler had then given himself to Christ, he would have grown in the atmosphere of his presence. He needed the love of Christ in his soul. When Christ controls the inner life of the soul, both the large and the small duties of life will be done by the inspiration of his divine Spirit. YI May 20, 1897, par. 9

“One thing thou lackest.” “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Christ read the ruler's heart. He traced from cause to effect, and he knew that the ruler's position and great possessions would have a demoralizing effect upon his whole nature, and would develop a character that would lead him to worship himself and his riches; that his desire to lay up treasure in heaven would grow less and less; and that he would enter into engagements that would be a snare to him. YI May 20, 1897, par. 10

Christ gave this young man a test. He allowed him all freedom in his choice. He presented the weak spot in his character. He was not to be forced to decide one way or the other. He was left free to choose heavenly treasure or worldly greatness. The heavenly treasure was assured him if he would follow Christ, yielding up everything to him. This was the only safe way for him to choose. There need have been no delay; the yielding could have been done at once. But if he accepted and believed in Christ, self must yield; his will must be given into Christ's control. YI May 20, 1897, par. 11

Christ saw in the ruler one thirsting for knowledge; and his love for him was revealed when he told him of his true moral standing, and said to him, “Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Christ's love is matchless, and is exhibited in doing and enduring. It is not possible to trace this love back to the beginning. For ages his eye has been upon us. To all intents and purposes, he was slain for us. He had a kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world. His love has been of old, even from everlasting. Through the human heart of Christ, the very holiness of God was offered to the young ruler. Christ presented to him the privilege of becoming a son of God, and, with him, a co-heir of the heavenly treasure; but it was necessary that he should take up the cross, and follow Christ in the path of self-denial. YI May 20, 1897, par. 12

Verily, Christ's words to the young ruler were the invitation, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” The choice was left with him. Jesus loved him, and was yearning for his conversion. He had shown him the plague-spot in his character; and with what yearning he watched the issue as the young man weighed the question! If he decided to follow Christ, he must obey his words in everything. He must turn from his ambitious projects. With what earnest, anxious longing, with what soul-hunger, did Christ look at the young man, hoping that he would yield to the invitation of the Spirit of God! YI May 20, 1897, par. 13

“The righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” Christ, who loved the young ruler, made the only terms which could place him where he would perfect a Christian character. His words were words of wisdom, though they appeared harsh and exacting. In accepting and obeying them was the ruler's only hope of salvation. His exalted position and his possessions were exerting a subtle influence for wrong upon his character. If cherished, they would supplant God in his affections. To keep back little or much from God was to keep back that which would weaken his moral strength and efficiency; for if the things of this earth are cherished, however uncertain and unworthy they may be, they will become all-absorbing. YI May 20, 1897, par. 14

The ruler asked Christ a decided question, and the answer Christ gave was the only truthful answer. It was a deciding time with this young man. Heaven's treasure could be obtained only by exchanging the earthly and temporal for the eternal. YI May 20, 1897, par. 15

The ruler was quick to discern all that Christ's words involved, and he became sad. If he had realized the value of the offered gift, how quickly would he have enrolled himself as one of Christ's followers! But Satan was tempting him with the flattering prospects of the future. He was a member of the honored council of the Jews. He wanted the heavenly treasure, but he wanted, also, the temporal advantages his riches would bring him. He was sorry that such conditions existed; he desired eternal life, but he was not willing to make the sacrifice. The cost of eternal life seemed too great, and he went away sorrowful; “for he had great possessions.” He refused to return to God that which had been given him only in trust. YI May 20, 1897, par. 16

Mrs. E. G. White