Biblical Worldview

The Rich, Young Ruler and Our Schedules

“Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor.”

That’s what Jesus said to the rich, young ruler in Mark 10.

Many have pointed out how this isn’t necessarily Jesus commanding everyone to sell all they own. Jesus is noticing that, despite the young man’s obedience in other areas, money was an idol in this young ruler’s heart. The solution was to smash the idol.

We talk about money as an idol. But really, no one worships money. There’s nothing special about a rectangular green piece of cloth and paper with a dead president’s face on it.

Money is simply just a means to other things – and those things are what we truly worship. Perhaps money is a means to an abundance of possessions and the pleasure that gives. Or status. Or pride. Or the sense of security we get when we look at a large bank account and believe that we can weather whatever financial storms life throws at us.

Now, think for a minute about relating that concept to time.

Time as a Means to Other Things

Our schedules reveal our hearts just like our budgets do. And just like money, our time can often be a currency we use to get things that we love and worship.

Our idol may be pride and status, leading us to spend our time chasing after accomplishments in the workplace. Perhaps we worship pleasure and spend our time in endless relaxation and leisure and fun.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s possible to be tremendously wealthy and still not worship money. It’s possible to accomplish things and relax without idolizing those things.

The true test comes from our heart condition, not how we pencil in our schedule. But our schedules can give us clues and awaken us to the reality of our heart condition. Take a look at your schedule – what do you think it says about your idols?

Jesus’s Approach

After seeing this idol in the mans’ heart, Jesus told the rich young ruler to do something extreme. Destroy the idol: Sell everything you own.

But notice what the text says right before that. Jesus loved the rich young ruler.

Jesus’s rather extreme instructions weren’t coming from judgment or condemnation but out of a loving concern for the young ruler. Jesus loved the rich young ruler enough to force him to confront his inner greed.

I don’t want this blog to continually beat people over the head. I hope to be a source of encouragement. But I also hopefully love people enough to ask us all to take a good, hard look at ourselves. (Myself included, believe me.)

Do our schedules clue us in to idols in our lives?

Is the Spirit instructing us, out of love, to get radical about smashing our idols?

An Honest Question

As I’ve thought about this, I’ve wondered: do we have to be extreme? Could there be a simpler way of releasing ourselves from the grip of idolatry? Could the rich young ruler repent of his greed by some means short of selling everything he owned?

I think so.

Remember, the issue here is the heart, not the calendar or the bank account.

Had the rich young ruler gotten to the point where he would’ve gladly sold all he owned in exchange for knowing Christ, then I think it wouldn’t have been necessary to actually sell everything. The idol would’ve been removed.

But the key is being able to joyfully sell all we own. Any hesitance to do so, any subtle inner sigh of disappointment, is a clue that we have a lingering idol in our life.

Are there any idols hiding in your heart and schedule?
How do you think we go about eliminating these idols?

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