Mark R Lindsey

Giving up your respect, power, ability to be generous — to follow Jesus.

In Matthew, Money on September 2, 2019 at 7:32 am

And behold, a man came up to him [Jesus], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. – Matthew 19:16-22

It’s easy to dismiss the young man as a cartoonish Silas Marner, his only companions the many coins he hoards. But this young man was virtuous; he had wisdom to seek out Jesus. When Jesus ordered him to become poor, it would cost him respect, authority, and capacity to do good.

Loss of Respect

Think of how much respectability the young man would lose if he sold these things. He wouldn’t be able to dress as well. He wouldn’t have a big house where people could come visit him for help, or business meetings. People might criticize him for throwing away his good inheritance from his father, saying he foolishly gave it up. If he followed Jesus’s direction, that loss would mean people looked down on him as someone who had it all, and threw it away.

Loss of Authority

Imagine how he would lose authority when he sold all his possessions. When people have money, others know it, and are willing to work for that money. People with money have the ability to buy things that the poor don’t have. At time of this conversation with Jesus, the rich young man had earthly authority that Jesus didn’t evidently have. The rich young man, while he was rich, could order his servants to go and do things, good things  — to prepare rooms for Passover, to spread good news to all the towns, to go visit the officials. Without his money and the power it brings, it would be up to God to provide justice and do good.

Loss of power to do good

See how his poverty would remove his ability to do good. He wouldn’t be able to provide shelter and protection for the destitute widow who lost her only son. He’d have no home to invite Jesus and his disciples to a big meal, to hear Jesus teach. He couldn’t afford to give money so the poor Israelite pilgrims to Jerusalem could buy their temple sacrifice. He’d have no tomb to lend to Jesus. He couldn’t buy a single pound of ointment to anoint the Messiah’s body. He couldn’t do good for the beggar Lazarus, taking him off the streets to care for and feed him. In his poverty, he, and Lazarus, and the widow would all be entirely reliant on God — and not the wealth.




  1. Well said, Young Man

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