Rich Young Ruler – A Lesson in Ethics

Matthew 19:16-17

“And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

(1) Good: The passage is peppered with this word – from the person asking, to Jesus, to a reference about God (ironically enough – good with one less ‘o’). Seems to be the human query for time immemorial.

(2) Life: Life is the other word that is both asked and addressed in this passage – but eternal life can also be looked at as meaning ‘fulness of life’. Life is the other thing we humans are trying to figure out.

What the person wants to know is how do we define ‘good’? In this passage Jesus said the ‘One’ (God) is good (1st commandment). This is the premise of where the definition of ‘life’ will get its meaning.

How do we obtain ‘eternal life’? Jesus says plainly ‘keep the commandments’ or adhere to those ideas within them to enjoy life. A simple summation of the commandments is love God and love your neighbor – in this ‘life’ can find it’s enjoyment/fulness.

But there is a 3rd thing being alluded to here – God’s words are good – and participating in keeping the things God has talked about is good (or is your part in participating with God). There is only ‘One’ who is good – but he did allow those things to be written and remembered – so we could find our way to serving goodness and giving/getting more from life.

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42 thoughts on “Rich Young Ruler – A Lesson in Ethics

  1. “so we could find our way to serving goodness and giving/getting more from life.” Jason

    Getting more from life? That is not quite what I see here. I see this as a warning that we should prepare for a life of sacrifice. In summation Jesus says;

    Matt 19:28-30 I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

    What he is saying here is; To receive my gift of eternal life, you must love me more than anything else. More than all your possessions, and more than your own family.

  2. That’s one sick god you serve, Ken. Why does God have to be so self-centered? Would anyone hang out with a person like this? No way!

    The God I pay attention to is the one who said in the garden that it isn’t good for man to be alone, even though God was right there with Adam. God knew this wasn’t a good situation at all and God made sure the man had a partner. If God had wanted total adulation God could have just left it with him and Adam for all eternity.

    In Torah the commands are given in this order: Love your neighbor, Love the stranger, and finally, last of all we are told to Love God. This is a very different picture than the one you present.

    Your god seems way too abusive, Ken. What’s the attraction?

  3. Yael, the first commandment is to love your God (have no other God before Him). You might want to read and respond to a posting on my blog called “Is God your number One?”

  4. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

    Ken I noticed in this section you got selective about the interpretation – you mention the sacrifice part and then jump to ‘inherit eternal life’. But in between that even Jesus says ‘will recieve a hundred times as much’ – and this is not concerning eternity or anything like that because the ‘and’ seperates the sentence (maybe even defining eternal life as fulness of life since he uses ‘inherit’ there). So obviously that sacrifice would reward them now also (maybe the sacrifice was temporary?).

    “To receive my gift of eternal life, you must love me more than anything else.” (Ken)

    Actually he isn’t – Jesus does mention the 1st command explicitly in that passage (by saying the ‘One’) and afterwards a few more commandments – but he also asks the person to keep those all if he wants ‘to find/enter into life’ – not just the first One. Also love is mentioned once – ‘love your neighbor’ (vs.19) – it seems Jesus is setting something out that he also follows – something his disciples can ‘do’ – to find ‘life’ and ‘what is good’.

    There is no mention of eternal life being a ‘gift’ here but more or less something that requires of us some sacrifice in order to get to it. The rich person was asked to keep the commandments and then sell all he owned and ‘follow Jesus’ (become a disciple) – not exactly a ‘free gift’ if you ask me. What’s wrong with being required to do something on behalf of showing your committment and finding life/goodness? Isn’t that how it actually works in reality?

    If this is a salvation passage – it’s salvific in how we can get involved in the kingdom of God for the betterment of humanity.

  5. Yael, the first commandment is to love your God (have no other God before Him).(Ken)

    You are mixing two different law codes into one sentence, a sentence that does not appear in Torah.

    In Exodus 20:2-3 we are told “Anochi Adonai Eloheka asher hotzayteka mayaretz Mitzrayim mibayt avadim. Lo Adonai lekha Elohim acharim al p’ni.”

    I am Adonai your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have no other gods besides Me.

    No where in these verses are we told to love God and we are only told we can have no other god than God. Nothing is said here about other people or preoccupations; we are only warned against worshiping other gods.

    The commandment to love our neighbor is found in Leviticus 19:18: You shall love your fellow as yourself (v’ahavta l’rayakha kamoka) – I am Adonai.

    The commandment to love the stranger is found in Leviticus 19:34: The stranger who dwells with you shall be like a native among you, and you shall love him like yourself, (v’ahavta lo kamoka ki-gerim heyitem b’eretz Mitzrayim) for you were strangers in the land of Egypt – I am Adonai, you God.

    The commandment to love God doesn’t come until Deuteronomy 6:5!

    V’ahavta et Adonai Eloheka b’kol l’vavka, oohvikol nafsheka, oovikol m’odeka”
    You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

    See ahava? That’s the word for love. Look back at the verses from Exodus. It’s not there.

    Don’t worship other gods, love your neighbor, love the stranger, love God. That’s the order they appear in Torah. And if you believe as some that Deuteronomy wasn’t even written until the time of Ezra it becomes an even later command, that we are to love God first.

  6. Ken,
    Let me take a look at your blog after Shabbat, Fridays are busy days for me. I shouldn’t be on the computer now at all! But, with just reading the title I can give you a quick answer. No, nor does God say God must be. What does God desire of us Micah 6:8? Pursue justice, love mercy, and [finally] to walk humbly with God. God puts God last again behind how we treat other people. Seems to me God wants us to be way more concerned about other people than we are even about God.

  7. Jason, as I stated in my posting on this I do not mean that we are any less able to focus on that which God expects of us in this life. In fact, by putting our priority on loving God first and most we are strengthened in aour ability to love and help others.

  8. Jason, I did not emphasize the “will receive a hundred times as much” as that is clearly out of context. The text is all about what we must do to receive eternal life and clearly Jesus is telling us that we should expect to have to sacrifice immensly to receive it.

    Is it a gift? I say yes because in no way do any of us deserve it. Does it come with strings attached? Well if you see turning from selfish worldly ways to loving Godly ways as payment for salvation I disagree. The heart that has been changed is not doing good things as repayment but out of love for what they have received.

  9. **“Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”**

    I don’t read this as a God is good, everyone else is evil. I read it as Jesus reminding the ruler who is the source of all the goodness, and making sure not to divorce good from God. Good can never be seperate from God, since it is a part of God. It’s relling the ruler to not think that the goodness of Jesus came from Jesus, but Who the source is.

    **So obviously that sacrifice would reward them now also (maybe the sacrifice was temporary?). **

    It might depend on what’s the purpose behind the foresaking. Say you have all those things, but for selfish reasons. You think they give you status, or power, or pride, or something. You then meet Jesus, and find what life truly should be, which is a constant sacrifice of evil in favor of the good. YOu would then go back to your wife/fields/children with a much better appreciation and love for them. You’d receive them back “a hundred times as much” because their value to you would have increased on the positive side. You’d no longer seem them as prideful possessions. We can even tie this back to the rich ruler, because he was no doubt very proud of his status. He had good things, he was noticed, and so forth. How much attention would he receive if he sold all his things?

    **Is it a gift? I say yes because in no way do any of us deserve it. **

    But a gift isn’t defined by whether or not one deserves it. It’s something given that one uses to demonstrate friendship/love so forth, that doesn’t require any return payment.

  10. “The text is all about what we must do to receive eternal life and clearly Jesus is telling us that we should expect to have to sacrifice immensly to receive it.” (Ken)

    I don’t disagree here – if we can define what Jesus meant by ‘eternal life’ here. Could it be the fulness of what our very lives could reach – since he does use ‘inherit’ in that same sentence…which to me signifies identifying with what he is teaching here (basically live those commands).

    “I did not emphasize the “will receive a hundred times as much” as that is clearly out of context” (Ken)

    How so? Here is the exact line right after the sacrifice ‘for my sake will receive a 100 times as much and will inherit eternal life.’. Here is how I see the breakdown of this sentence: (1) will recieve a 100 times as much (now) – (2) and (the division in the sentence) – (3) ‘will inherit eternal life’ (will gain this as we go down this path). I think Jesus is reflecting back to something from Abraham (the sands of the sea idea) but he also seems to be clearly saying this is a ‘now’ thing/reward.

    “I say yes because in no way do any of us deserve it” (Ken)

    Yeah but this is the nature of gifts (I agree with OSS) – also ‘gift’ is a word nowhere to be found in the teaching whatsoever (so who’s missing context here?). But Jesus does imply the actual commitment is action (or faith with works) – and nothing less. In this same passage we see the rich young ruler walk away because he could not do something (and this grieved the poor man – oddly enough who was also rich). The disciples are also seen as blessed for ‘following’ (vs.28) – an action verb according to the sentence (meaning following meant doing something). Faith, again I will reittirate this, is not faith if only in word. The gift if anything is the graciousness of God letting us know about Him and the way to a ‘good life’.

    “I don’t read this as a God is good, everyone else is evil” (OSS)

    Me neither – since Jesus makes this seem like a very followable idea – all one would have to do is pick up the words, read, and begin the quest. It’s not like the disciples said much about themselves getting to heaven at all – they were ‘following’. Their only question is in regards to being rich and coming into the kingdom (that sacrifice involved) – which in the end made one man turn away (not 12 others).

  11. “I don’t read this as a God is good, everyone else is evil.” (OSS)

    We could go around in circles on this one but in the end I would have to argue that scripture and my own experience heavily weigh in the favor of us being completely dependant on God for salvation from our sins.

    “You’d receive them back “a hundred times as much” because their value to you would have increased on the positive side.” (OSS)

    Amen. I do believe that most if not all references in the scripture about us receiving a reward for something are speaking about a spiritual reward. Nowhere in scripture have I found any text that promises a healthy and comfortable life here on earth. On the other hand, I don’t see the directive that all Christians must be destitute. But there are many references similar to this text that support the belief that we should be willing to sacrifice (or lose) all that we value in this life, and still love God.

    In the case if the rich young ruler, what I would say is going on is that Jesus knew the this young man was trusting more in his possessions than in God. By asking him to sell all he has and give it to the poor, Jesus made him realize just what he loved most in life, and that was not God.

    Matt 6:24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

  12. “I don’t disagree here – if we can define what Jesus meant by ‘eternal life’ here. Could it be the fulness of what our very lives could reach”

    What I here you saying is that Jesus is promising this rich young ruler some kind of better life here on earth if he were to sell all his possessions. I could agree with that except for the fact that this ruler is not asking for anything in this life. He is asking what he must do to receive eternal life.

    Jesus could have answered “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind ; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” as He did in Luke 10:25-28 when He was asked the same question, but He knew this man’s heart so He went directly to revealing the problem in this man’s life. The ruler loved his wealth and possessions (and all that is attached to that lifestyle) more than he loved God. Note also that in the Luke text, Jesus says “Do this and you will live” (vs 28) not “Do this and you will have fullness of life”. Would you not agree that Jesus statement infers that if we do not do this we will die?

  13. “also ‘gift’ is a word nowhere to be found in the teaching whatsoever (so who’s missing context here?). ” (Jason)

    You are right, this text does not say that eternal life is a gift, I just threw that in by habit. But the belief that eternal life is a gift and not something we can earn is well supported by scripture. This is the clearest text on that teaching;

    Eph 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    Of course, that fact that eternal life is a gift and not anything we can earn (not by works) does not mean that we may ignore the commandment to do good works. That is why I like to include verse 10 (which many leave out.)

  14. “It’s not like the disciples said much about themselves getting to heaven at all – they were ‘following’” (Jason)

    Really? I know they were following and I totally agree that faith without works is dead, but I did a search on “eternal life” in the New testament (excluding the Gospels) and it is spoken of frequently as the ultimate reward of following Jesus. Here are just 6 of the 18 verses;

    Acts 13:46
    Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

    Romans 5:21
    so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Romans 6:22
    But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

    Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 John 5:20
    We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

    Jude 1:21
    Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

  15. Jason, sorry about the multiple posts but I wanted to address all I could tonight. Tomorrow I go to Calgary for a week. I will check in a bit during the week but probably not as much.

  16. “Jesus says “Do this and you will live” (vs 28) not “Do this and you will have fullness of life”. Would you not agree that Jesus statement infers that if we do not do this we will die?” (Ken)

    See there is a problem with flipping it and saying ‘don’t do this and you will die’ (which actually helps define the problem 100%) – since it is ‘false’ or ‘not true’. If the ruler does not do these things he will actually not die – he will continue on living (and this seems to be the case when he leaves). The real problem is he does not realize the full potential of life or what it could of been – he walked away. So ‘live’ here has to mean ‘adding more to life than you previously have’. Since the opposite of the idea of life in this sentence is not death – but ‘not doing something’ or taking further steps away from God (or potential in life).

  17. That chapter also states… “Mat 19:25 And His disciples were exceedingly astonished when they heard this, saying, Who then can be saved?
    Mat 19:26 But having looked at them, Jesus said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Then… “Mat 19:29 And everyone who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for the sake of My name, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

    What do you make of that?

  18. Yael, thanks. And please direct me to any writing you have done on your site on the topic also if you have done so. (Ken)

    Ken, I’ll have to look around a bit and see what I might have written, right offhand I pulled up this post, Community and God, which isn’t a text study but certainly gives a very Jewish point of view.

  19. Ken,

    **I would have to argue that scripture and my own experience heavily weigh in the favor of us being completely dependant on God for salvation from our sins. **

    But this doesn’t then make God good, everyone else evil. Rather, it’s looking back to the source. Nothing happens, nothing exists without God. You can say that someone is good without detracting anything from God. It still gives glory to God, because God made that person. How would it not be a compliment to God to call what He created good? It could be Jesus reminding the ruler, “Call me good, but remember why I’m good.” What I see the text saying is always remember the source. Good cannot be seperate from God. Can we fight sin on our own? In part, yes. Can we completely eradicate it on our own? No.

    **Nowhere in scripture have I found any text that promises a healthy and comfortable life here on earth**

    It’s really going to depend on how you define life. If we take this sentence right here, then what you seem to be saying is nowhere in the Bible does it promise a healthy and comfortable *material* life. But life is then connected with something physical. There are examples of people who do not have physical health, or material comforts, and yet just blaze with serenity — I would say then that they have the most healthy and comfortable life out of us all. In this context, the BIble does promise a healthy and comfortable life, because that’s what life means: something beyond the material. Life has to be more than just survival, more than just “not death.” And that’s what I see happening if the parable is used to to get to heaven. Eternal life must contain a fulness of life, and if the rich young ruler was unable to relinquish his possessions, then he did not have that fulness. He was putting trust, and wanting a finite life more than an infinite one.

    **By asking him to sell all he has and give it to the poor, Jesus made him realize just what he loved most in life, and that was not God. **

    Except he was keeping the commandments. You say in another post that Jesus went directly do the wealth, but he didn’t. He first told the ruler to make sure he was keeping all the commandments, and Jesus listed “loving one’s neighbor as oneself.” It was only after the ruler said, “I do that, as well as other commandments” that Jesus addressed the wealth. I’m not even sure we can say Jesus “foreknew” that wealth was the problem, until after the ruler said I keep all the commandments.

    As it is, God is never directly mentioned in this. At all. I don’t even know we can say that the ruler loved wealth more than God, because that’s presuming that the ruler believed Jesus was God. What Jesus says is for the ruler to keep the commandments — but he does not mention love God. The ruler says he does keep them. Jesus then says for the ruler to sell what he has, give to the poor, he’ll have treasure in heaven, and then follow Jesus (but to the ruler, it’s highly likely that he would just see Jesus as a prophet, nothing more). The concept of caring for the neighbor is mentioned *twice* here. I think it’s more likely that the ruler cared for wealth more than he cared for others, and *that* was the pitall.

    **Would you not agree that Jesus statement infers that if we do not do this we will die?**

    I think I already touched on this, and it looks like Society did as well, but say someone operates on automatic day in and day out. That person is alive in the technical sense, but they don’t have “life.” Life has to be more than just not dying.

  20. I’ll put in a Jewish take on this story….

    God promised material wealth to quite a few people in Tanakh. No where is being blessed limited to only some type of spiritual blessing. It was very physical, very real. Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob all acquired great wealth, when we left Egypt we were told to get wealth from the Egyptians. David and Solomon certainly were wealthy as well.

    If a community doesn’t have at least a few people with a bit of wealth, it’s hard to take care of the needs of that community much less the needs of the world around them. Without excess wealth how can one take care of the widow, the orphan, the stranger?

    In Tanakh there is a limit to how much one is to tithe. Our sages teach that a wealthy person is not to give away all they have to the poor because what good would that do? Now they are poor as well! In taking care of others a person must also make sure to take care of themselves also so that they do not fall into a state of neediness.

    Perhaps the rich young ruler went away sad because he had thought Jesus was a wise rabbi from whom he could learn, but instead he found Jesus’ teachings quite questionable and so had to go off looking for another rabbi. He was a ruler, more than likely there were many people dependent on him for their livelihood. Was he just supposed to dump all of them on the streets as well?

    How would we like it if we thought we’d found the best teacher we could ever find only to be told we’re too poor, go accumulate some wealth and then come back? Discrimination is discrimination, whether it be because one has money or because one doesn’t. People shouldn’t be lumped into ‘righteousness’ categories based on money.

  21. “What do you make of that?” (Bruced)

    First off it’s a good question – the definition of ‘saved’ is the big thing there. From what or to what?

    In context Jesus is addressing the idea ‘it is hard for a rich man to get into heaven’. The disciples then question him and say ‘who then can be saved?’. The disciples seem to think (by their question) being rich is of some importance to the kingdom of God and cannot believe that somene rich (and affluent) was not fit for it – they are shocked. Jesus merely says it’s tough – not impossible – and the one seeking need simply look to God (or God’s words).

    It is the saved part that I am not sure what they are referring to. Could be the coming judgement they thought was coming from the Romans, could be the sinfulness of the times and being seduced by society around them to commit things against God, or maybe some eternal judgment. Either way the answer is look to God and His words – since they teach life and goodness.

  22. “He was putting trust, and wanting a finite life more than an infinite one” (OSS)

    I agree. I think the young ruler was asked about sacrifice and was found wanting – and Jesus wasn’t asking of that person anymore than he asked of any of those disciples with him (or equality). The possessions thing became an issue.

  23. “Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob all acquired great wealth, when we left Egypt we were told to get wealth from the Egyptians. David and Solomon certainly were wealthy as well.” (Yael)

    Agreed – and I think this was also on the disciples minds when they ask a question like ‘who then can be saved?’ – with regards to the young man with the possessions.

    “Without excess wealth how can one take care of the widow, the orphan, the stranger?” (Yael)

    Easy, but it depends on what culture and what time frame we talk about. My people in Canada never amassed wealth yet the community was well taken care of and strong prior to European settlement and land take-over (in the community everyone had functioning parts). I would also risk to throw the Amish in here also – who reject wealth (and modern technology) yet they survive as a community. In those communities the widow, the orphan, and stranger can also find comfort.

    The problem is actually with Nation-hood and political systems that we start seeing the poor marginalized for the sake of the rich business owner (who also gets tax breaks for their support of the economy). Socialism does have it’s problems but I ain’t seen nothing like rich Capitalist countries and their ability to create ghetto’s, hoods, and slums – all the while maintaining they are ‘great’. So wealth, as a power base, can be a problem – a lot of those people are not addressing the widow, the orphan, nor the stranger with their pocket-books – they just ignore them.

    “In taking care of others a person must also make sure to take care of themselves also so that they do not fall into a state of neediness.” (Yael)

    I agree – I think we need to maintain ourselves and well being in life if we are to show another how to do it.

    “He was a ruler, more than likely there were many people dependent on him for their livelihood.” (Yael)

    We know for sure people were dependant on this young person (as a ruler) but maybe Jesus is addressing just that – his rulership. Jesus actually calls him out about his ‘possessions’ (sell them) and come follow Jesus (which would require servanthood of some fashion). Maybe the ruler had some serious issues with humility or even sharing – both normal things within the faith.

    Also, how sure can we be this ruler was not abusing his rulership – thus the mass possessions. Maybe he was always cutting off the top and not giving as much to the people for their good. This is a common practice – namely when money is involved – actually it seems to be the very curse with handling money. Rich, poor, women, men, and people of all races – it matters not what you were born into – this problem with money has always existed. Perhaps the ruler was just this very fellow?

    “People shouldn’t be lumped into ‘righteousness’ categories based on money.” (Yael)

    Yes they should. Because with more money comes more responsibility (or as Biggie said ‘mo money mo problems’) to your community – and there is a sense of righteousness involved in that.

    Let’s say tomorrow I win the lottery and I have some 20 million dollars. If I simply use that money for my own good (cars, homes, video games, parties, women, investment, etc) then what use am I to my community…they mine as well cast me out from their midst. I am selfish and for me that would be worthy of being kicked out of everything I ever knew – my family and community. And although I never killed anyone – I also didn’t ‘treat others how I would of wanted to be treated’ – and via omission – I mine as well ‘wished them the worst’.

    In reality, my goal is to use what I get for both my betterment and for the betterment of others – no matter how little or how much money I make. But if I had that 20 million I would use it for the betterment of my community – via investment in business, homes, programs for the poor, better education in the schools, etc. I wouldn’t take more than I give to the rest. My view of wealth is a lot different than most – mainly because I know what it means to be ‘dirt poor’ – and growing up no one with money helped out – nor showed any level of concern – and that always tore me up inside. To me, I have seen money bring out the worst in people (the cold shoulder) – actually this society can bring out the worst in people – this ‘chase’ for money. Jesus’ teachings – even if taken literal – are right on the ‘money’.

  24. I would like to apologize to anyone who thinks I am a little too staunch in my various stances I have written in the past few comments – I am mainly doing it to learn and get something out of the discussion (also those are what I believe at present – so I am not lying). Just thought it sounded harsh was all.

  25. Jason, I am in Calgary and have just quickly scanned all the responses. I will quickly respind to the one about losing life, although I think Brude’s response was quite well. Thanks Bruce.

    What I meant by “if you do not do this you will die” is this; that we would eventually die not only physically but spiritually as well. Therefore we will not inherit “eternal life”.

    There is lots else I would like to address but it will have to wait untill next week.

  26. **Also, how sure can we be this ruler was not abusing his rulership – thus the mass possessions. Maybe he was always cutting off the top and not giving as much to the people for their good.**

    I get what you’re saying, Society, but we might be able to discount this, based on the fact that the ruler said he followed all the commandments. And Jesus never said the ruler was a liar, just that the ruler needed to go further. Theft could include not abusing his rulership. I think loving one’s neighbor as oneself would almost certainly cover that.

    What I got out of Yael’s comment, in terms of using money to determine righteousness, is a common response I see with lottery winners. Suddenly, their family and friends are crawling out of the woodwork, demanding a little piece. THe person just won millions, so how can a little hurt? Except the “little” can add up, until the lottery winner is now destitute. There’s a sense of entitlement from all those who haven’t won the lottery. Which does add to your point of money affects people in strong ways.

    We don’t know how much the ruler was already giving away, or all the people he was helping. He had to be helping someone, if he were following those commandments. It doesn’t sound like he was doing what Britney Spears does with her money, but in the sense of giving up all his possessions. He could’ve been in a position where he needed that money to make more investments, or grow crops, that others were dependent upon. Keeping his money might’ve helped more people long-term than giving it away in one go. It’s the whole, “Give a man a fish and you feed him, teach a man and he feeds himself.”

    Based on how the story is written, I do think the point was to show that there was an element of selfishness in the ruler, and attachment to his posessions.

  27. I agree OSS – something about the idea of possessions and the way it is used there seems to be the stumbling block (or the lesson we can learn from).

  28. If the cross of Christ has set us free, to whom are we accountable?

    Joh 9:41 Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, We see; therefore, your sin remains.

  29. “If the cross of Christ has set us free, to whom are we accountable?” (Bruced)

    I would say out of the love that flows from our hearts we should be accountable to most everyone that comes by our path. The idea of loving our neighbor is about relationships one with another – and I am glad when people are accountable in those relationships (able to say sorry or can make right the wrongs they commit). I strive for that in all my friendships – and with people I barely know. Because in the end, we are accountable for our decisions somewhere and at sometime – and I prefer one to another is where we keep that accountability.

    As for the John 9:41 scripture – I am not sure what you are getting at there?

  30. The bible verse? I wasn’t getting at anything. I just thought it was interesting. We all make the bible say whatever we want it to say anyway.

    I guess I don’t understand religious thinking. How is it that we are accountable? I thought the whole message of the cross was that Jesus has become accountable on our behalf. Was He the Savior, or wasn’t He?

    “If I am lifted up, I will draw all (judgement) to me.” And He was… and He did.

    It is finished!

  31. BTW, why is it important to you that others should be “able to say sorry or can make right the wrongs they commit”?

    Is your forgiveness of others hinged on their desire for it? Is that the way you see God? Only offering grace to those who ask (deserve it)?

  32. “I guess I don’t understand religious thinking” (Bruced)

    Well that will make 2 of us then.

    “How is it that we are accountable?” (Bruced)

    I think of accountability within relationships – being open and accesible. Like if we are friends and I do something wrong against you – then I should be also as willing to make that right – if not to remain friends only, but also to live according to my value system (which I claim is from Jesus’ teachings). I guess it would be hypocritical (acting) of me to turn around do you wrong and then continue to do you wrong and make the ‘claim’ I am following Jesus somehow.

    “I thought the whole message of the cross was that Jesus has become accountable on our behalf. Was He the Savior, or wasn’t He? ” (Bruced)

    He was the saviour. But even if this is true – then should we not also be the same thing? Isn’t that 1/2 the point about Jesus’ life – being a disciple to his leadership and teaching – and if he was sacrifical – should not we be? I am not going to make the claim I am going to take ‘away the sins of the world’ but even that idea reveals something we can do – we can love people around us – ‘love covers a multitude of sins’. I see Jesus as someone rabbinic in scope (as a teacher/leader) that taught us about God and what we can do to enact the values of God. I could be wrong on this – then again I am not going to mix messages either – I take this solely from Matthew.

    “If I am lifted up, I will draw all (judgement) to me.” And He was… and He did…It is finished!” (Bruced)

    Great – now let’s get out there and be the same thing. Let’s draw all judgement to us now and be that life of sacrifice for another who needs it – I mean – if Jesus can do it?

    “BTW, why is it important to you that others should be “able to say sorry or can make right the wrongs they commit”?” (Bruced)

    I think it is important because it keeps relationships in tact and responsible one to another…can I enforce this idea – no – but I wouldn’t want to either. This is a level of responsibility we all need to learn on our own – ‘treating others how I want to be treated’ – and this is something we ‘live’ – and we have to ‘live’ it to find out what it means. I value relationships.

    “Is your forgiveness of others hinged on their desire for it?” (Bruced)

    No, my forgiveness is based on the idea of judgment – and that judgment is mercy. If i also want to find mercy then I need to be merciful to others.

    “Is that the way you see God?” (Bruced)

    I see God as love – cause these teachings He gave us help us find more to life and how to be ‘good’ to others (and ourselves).

    “Only offering grace to those who ask (deserve it)?” (Bruced)

    No I live by that all too simple of a motto ‘treat others how you want to be treated’. If I want to find grace – then shouldn’t I be gracious? If I want to find mercy – then I should be merciful. If I want to find to find more responsibility – then I should be responsible. Etc, etc, etc. Grace has no pricetag – those who ask – usually recieve it.

    But I am not at all a religious person – structure wise. I do believe in these teachings of Jesus and try to find ways to embrace them in my life. I have scrapped doctrine a long time ago – and just basically try to live responsibiliy.

  33. Only have a minute, but let me ask… if you want to be gracious and merciful, why do you require that others be accountable to you? Why do you expect them to be sorry and make things right? Do you think that is what God requires/expects of you?

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  34. “why do you require that others be accountable to you?” (Bruced)

    Well then how far can friendship go without that accountability? I am just as accountable to that person – it’s a give and take thing. If I mess someone over – I wouldn’t expect them to be my friend – that’s their call…but if they show mercy and allow me back – I might retain my friendship but there are broken bonds that will take some time to fix (ie: make things right). Friendship without accountability – like anarchy – I am not sure I have ever seen that?

    “Why do you expect them to be sorry and make things right?” (Bruced)

    I don’t expect anything from anyone – but if someone is my friend – then I will go out of my way to make them feel welcome (and treat then really well). I only hope that is what I get in return for my actions. If not, then maybe the friendship is not really there.

    “Do you think that is what God requires/expects of you?” (Bruced)

    I expect this of myself – I expect to live according to those teachings as best I can – so that I can learn more about humanity and my role within the whole sphere of things. God commands us to love one another – it’s kind of funny in a way – since God has to ask us so demandinly for something we should be doing irregardless.

  35. “What if you fail?” (Bruced)

    I guess we would have to define failure in this process. If I let someone down then I try make things right with them – so there is always a way back to regaining friendship. As for the keeping of the teachings – failure is not really much of a thing for me – since the responsibility is on me anyways – and it’s up to me to fine-tune my views (maybe I am holding a view that is not working) – truth takes a while to work itself out (I don’t have all the answers right now). Failure can be seen as good in that regards – like mistakes – we can learn from them.

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