Greed: The Case of the Rich Young Ruler – Gospel in Life

Greed: The Case of the Rich Young Ruler

Tim Keller |  March 19, 1995

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  • Stewardship, Generosity and Money
  • Sin
  • Christian Living and Obedience
Matthew 19:16-25
RS 57-8

Matthew 19:16–25

The story of the rich young man asking Jesus about eternal life shows that even if someone appears successful and good, they can still be spiritually lacking. Jesus shocks the young man by telling him to sell his stuff and give to the poor, challenging the idea that being good earns you points with God. This story reminds us that Christianity is unique, and that even ‘perfect’ lives can feel empty. It also makes us wonder about what it really takes to be saved.

1. He talked to the real Jesus

Meeting the real Jesus and His teachings can be surprising and life-changing, helping us grow in our faith. The gospel is challenging but also rewarding, and once you truly understand Jesus’s teachings, you can’t just ignore them. If Christianity seems boring or irrelevant, it’s probably because we don’t really understand what Jesus is saying.

2. Jesus smashed two of his basic assumptions about how religion works

Jesus challenges the idea that Christianity is just something extra you add to your life or a way to earn eternal life. He says that it requires a complete change in us. He also disputes the idea that being good is the way to God, making it clear that none of us can be good enough. Instead, Jesus offers a new way to God that depends on His work, not ours. He introduces a new way to see humanity that goes beyond the usual good-bad split, which leaves the young man feeling sad.

3. Jesus got personal

Jesus is saddened not by the young man’s ideas, but by his approach to his spiritual struggle, which is too academic. The real problem is a power struggle with God over his dreams, not a disagreement with Christianity. Until we give up our dreams and let Jesus decide what’s best, anything that comes first before Him can become harmful in our lives.

4. He doesn’t understand treasure in heaven

Jesus invites us to put Him first, showing us that our real wealth is not in what we own, but in His unending, never-changing love. As we trust in Him, we change, becoming free from worries about this world and able to live generously. When we value Jesus, God values us, and we find joy, freedom, and our real identity in Him.



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