You Still Lack One Thing

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In the story about the man commonly referred to as the Rich Young Ruler, Jesus is teaching us about surrender.

8 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Read the rest.)

Jesus tells the man,

“You still lack one thing.”

The irony of the statement is that the man who thought he had it all — wealth and, even more importantly, perfect adherence to the Law — had to accept that he lacked something.

He confirms Jesus’ statement about him by his inability to give away his possessions.

The man who showed such moral and financial strength actually lacks the strength to surrender.

The strength to surrender only comes through the realization and acceptance of one’s true poverty apart from God.

To give up his possessions he must give up his future and his security and the story he has told himself about his perfect obedience.

Jesus is calling him to recognize that he has not actually followed the Law from his heart.

To begin to follow Jesus he must accept the current truth of his person that, in Jesus, he might discover the eternal truth of his identity.

Feel the sadness and the sorrow of this passage.

This is a man who is unable and unwilling to give up. He sees the destination of grace and of love but he does not want to walk — does not know how to walk — the path of surrender that leads to this grace and love.

We all have pieces and parts of the Rich Young Ruler inside of us.

We hear Jesus’ words and we want to experience Him, but the acute pain of surrender is often to much for us to bear. It’s easier to hold onto the identities we’ve constructed, the strengths we possess, and the stories we tell ourselves.


Hi, I’m Michael and this is my daily project where I write about diverse ideas.

This is Dose #66.

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