Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
In Matthew 19, one can find an interesting story of a man who was specifically loved by Jesus but who refused to follow Christ. We know that man as “the rich young ruler.” This man came to Jesus looking to add to what he already possessed. He wanted eternal life.
Now we know from other passages that it is our sin which keeps us from eternal life. Romans bluntly states that we all have sinned. Isaiah tells us that we have all run from God. Jeremiah unveils that the inner heart is evil without rival. Jesus, however, addresses this man with a different and gentler approach.
Obviously, the rich young ruler’s sinfulness was preventing him from having eternal life. Rather than list out the man’s failures, Jesus let God’s Law point out his weakness. The man asked “What must I do?” Jesus said that he must keep the commandments. When the man asked which commandments, Jesus gave a short list, but Jesus’ list moved from “big ones” to the “little guys.” Most of us believers feel that murder, adultery, and theft are big things that we would never do. The rich young ruler agreed too. Jesus didn’t stop there though. He continued by mentioning honoring parents and loving others; and by doing so Jesus revealed the man’s blind spot to his own sin.
You see the man replied that he had kept the commandments perfectly. What could he possibly be missing? Jesus told him then to go and sell all his possessions to give them to the poor. Then the man could follow Christ.
We know how the story ends. The rich young ruler left sorrowing because he had many possessions. I had always thought that Jesus only implied that the man was living for materialism—and Jesus was! However, Jesus also mentioned one of the very commandments that the man could not fulfill. You see, that man could not love his neighbor as himself—the last command Jesus mentioned. He couldn’t love others enough to give them what he had for himself. The man just couldn’t see it. He had a blind spot.
The interesting thing about blind spots is that many times the mind doesn’t register that there is an area that can’t be seen. The mind fills in the blanks of the image that it expects to see. This means that we can miss something that is really there. When we have blind spots in our vehicles, we don’t always feel that our vision is lacking. We have to be purposefully aware that they exist, and we have to do things to mitigate the blindness—like correctly positioning our rearview and side mirrors.
Spiritually, we can have blind spots just like the rich young ruler. That is why we need to approach God’s Word humbly, asking God to show us our sinfulness. When God lovingly and gently reveals that which is wrong, we must become “doers of the word and not hearers only.”