Filling Up: Rich, But Poor!

Filling Up: Rich, But Poor!

Dr Steve DansoBy Dr. Steve Danso – In the mid-eighties, Africa witnessed the emergence of a fellowship of lay businessmen called the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International.  The fellowship, which was founded in 1951 in Los by Demos Shakarian, a California rancher, called themselves the “Happiest People on Earth.”

The fellowship holds chapter meetings in informal settings, typical around meals, where members share stories of how God has transformed their lives for the better.  There is no preaching, just testimonies of God’s faithfulness.

Drawn by incessant radio and television advertisements about the group’s activities, I honored a friend’s invitation to one of their chapter breakfast meetings and was awe-struck by the energy of an all men gathering in a packed hall singing praises, waving handkerchiefs and just simply ‘doing business’ to the glory of God.  The men’s activities that day kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the program.  It was an unbelievable experience.

The occasion humbled me and when I came home later that day, I asked God to show me the way to become one of the happiest men on earth.  I was a budding young man then, full of life, described myself as a Presbyterian and very confident with my fortunes, but deep in me, I lacked that inner peace and satisfaction.

This was the dilemma faced by the young, rich ruler described in the Books of Mark, Matthew and Luke.  The Pharisee’s were peppering Jesus Christ with various questions about divorce after His teachings in Judea, and after dealing with these questions, a young, rich man, who apparently was enthralled by His teachings, ran and kneeled to Him, asking, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life.” 

Some Bible scholars refer to this man as a leader in the synagogue, perhaps a present day deacon and an upstanding member of the religious community.  In the eyes of his people, he was a model, who kept the letter of the law and was not expected to ask questions about his salvation, but this man was not so certain and to him, it was the opportunity to find out from the Savior Himself.  Paul said to the Galatians, “Curse is the one who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of law, to do them” (Gal. 3:10).

When the Lord asked John to write to the church in Sardis, John wrote: “These are the words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1).  The young man wanted to be declared spiritually alive, not dead!  The ‘spiritually dead’ tag is a label so many believers cannot easily shake off.  Most believers still maintain their objectionable habits and go for days without praying, fasting or sharing the Word with anyone.

The Lord’s response to the young ruler was simple: ‘You know the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness or defraud and honor your father and mother.’  The young man, apparently pleased that he had passed the test answered, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”

The young ruler thought he was doing his best; he knew that he was very orthodox in his faith and wasn’t like the Sadducees who did not believe that there was life after death.  What inspired him to take that line of action was that after hearing Jesus teach and preach in various places, he saw in Him, the very embodiment of life.

The Scriptures say Jesus loved the young man for his confident reply and told him, “There is one thing you lack: Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come take up the cross and follow Me.”       

Just let go of your idols, those things that pull you away from God, the negative thoughts that keep you awake all night and then come follow me and you will get eternal life.  At this stage, the young man thought he had run into a brick wall.  It wasn’t the answer he wanted and to him, it was a difficult choice!

The Scriptures says, “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”  The young man might have said to himself, “Lord, You are wonderful, I love You, but this is my comfort zone and I am not prepared to let it go.”  He was looking for change, but wasn’t in the mood to accept the conditions that he had to meet to make that change possible.  His wealth provided him a false sense of security.

The young ruler’s intransigence was in sharp contrast to Zacchaeus (See Luke 19), who after accepting Christ into his life, gave away half of his belongings to the poor and paid back all who he had wronged. Zacchaeus needed salvation and was prepared to sacrifice everything to be saved.

We all seek Christ to be saved and do everything we can to advance that cause; go to church, pay our tithes, and become active participants in the Church’s activities, but if we do not walk away from the things that stand between us and God, we are deceiving ourselves.

The rich young ruler went to the right Person, asked the right question, and received the right answer, but he made the wrong choice because of pride and wealth.  He was rich, but poor in spirit.  So many believers want to go to heaven, but want to do so through the back door!  They want salvation on their own terms, but brothers and sisters, it just doesn’t happen that way.

We have been declared by God as being righteous under the Law, which is based solely upon Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).  Having thus been justified, we have to strive to submit to God’s will and resist the ‘worship of idols,’ which keeps us enslaved to the machinations of the devil and shatter our efforts for salvation.



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