#020: Superficial Spirituality of the Rich Young Ruler

On occasion, what I learn on Sunday, seems to have leaked out of my head by Monday morning. I approach Monday morning at work like any other day, rather than a day that God has given me to reflect His glory to the world. What’s wrong with me?! Sometimes I think I see a little too much of the “rich young ruler” in the mirror and that scares me!

Rich Young Ruler

The Gospel of Mark records Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-31). Of all the people who came to Jesus, this young man was the only one who left worse than when he came. He was rich, young (Mt 19:22) ruler (Luke 18:18) respected by others with manners and morals. He desired spiritual things. He had a number of fine qualities and for these Jesus loved him.

In his Bible Exposition Commentary, Warren Wiersbe notes this young ruler had 4 spiritual shortcomings:

1) He had a superficial view of spiritual things–especially salvation. He thought he could do something to earn or merit eternal life. This belief was common then and this belief still persists today. Many unsaved people think one day God will place their goods deeds on a scale and their bad deeds on the other side, and if the good outweighs the bad they will get into heaven.

2) He had a superficial view of sin, man, and God. Sin is a rebellion against God, it is not just an action, but also an inward attitude that exalts man and defies God.

3) He had a superficial view of Jesus. While he called Jesus Teacher (Good master) we get the impression that he is trying to flatter Jesus because rabbis did not allow anyone to call them good because the word ‘good’ is reserved for God alone. Jesus did not deny that He was God, rather, in this case, He was affirming it since He did not correct the man. We don’t know if the young man got the point Jesus was trying to make.

4) He had a superficial view of the Law of God. He measured obedience to God only through the external measures, not the inward attitudes. From the outside, he was blameless but inwardly he was covetous. And this sin alone would have kept him from heaven. His morality and good manners only served to conceal his covetous heart.


The Christian life is not a single event when you respond to the call “come follow me.” Rather it is a day-by-day decision, with a man it is impossible, but with God it is possible.

Mark 10:17-21 (NASB)
17  As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
18  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
20  And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21  Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How are you doing with your day-to-day spiritual life? Does your filling from the weekend at church carry over to your workweek?

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

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