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“And, behold, one came and said unto Him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’ And He said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He saith unto him, ‘Which?’ Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ The young man saith unto Him, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:16-22 KJV.
This rich young man did not have the love for others that he should have had. He claimed that he was keeping all of God’s commandments, but Jesus plainly stated that we need to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves,’ in Matthew 22:39, and in Mark 12:31, which includes helping the poor. And Moses revealed this truth that we are to help the poor too: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.” Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NKJV. If this young man had been willing to give to the poor, and to follow Jesus, this would have proved to be the remedy for his soul! If he would have had God’s Spirit in his heart or wanted to have God’s Spirit in his heart, he would have willingly done this. After thinking about it, he went away sorrowful, because it wasn’t worth it to him to give up all of his possessions to love his neighbor as himself. Jesus didn’t indicate that the young man had a problem with all of the commandments, because he didn’t state all of them to this young man. But in reality, the young man was breaking the first commandment too, because he wasn’t loving his neighbor as himself, because everyone belongs to our loving Heavenly Father in Heaven. If we love God, then we will love our neighbor too. Paul states this same truth when he says: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10 NASB. This young man had made the claim of keeping God’s law, but Paul’s statement here declares that this young man was in fact breaking God’s Law, because he did not love his neighbor as himself.
Was this young man wanting to come and follow Jesus? No, perhaps because it required giving up all of his wealth, or maybe it was because he didn’t want to forsake all and come and follow Jesus? This was an even bigger problem! But praise the Lord there were some who wanted to follow Jesus, who left everything to follow Him, who preached to those who came before us the gospel message, Jesus’ Disciples! After this rich young man left, in response to Jesus’ statement ‘with men it is impossible to be saved, but with God all things are possible’ [including salvation] Peter questioned Jesus: “Then answered Peter and said unto Him, ‘Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”Matthew 19:27-28 KJV.
So what was this young man really lacking? He was lacking love for God and love for His neighbor! If he was willing to love his neighbor, by helping the poor out of his worldly goods, to relieve their needs and suffering, this would have shown his love for God.
So likewise, if you don’t love your neighbor as yourself, or are not willing to leave everything and come and follow Jesus, you will be in the same boat as this young man!Anyone who speaks unkind words about someone behind their back, or harsh critical words to them, certainly does not love their neighbor as themself, and are not keeping the first commandment to have no other gods before God, Exodus 20:3. It does not matter if someone says that they know the truth, all of the truth, and claim that they follow it or not. If they do not love their neighbor, they are a transgressor of the law, and are lacking the knowledge of the truth of God’s love. If you love your neighbor as yourself, that means that you are Jesus’ disciple, for the only way you can love your neighbor as yourself, is if you love Jesus and are willing to forsake all and follow Him. God will provide everything you need if you are willing to come and follow Jesus.
When God’s love is dwelling in your heart, it changes the way you speak to others and what you say about them, and it will help you to not want to damage their reputation; kindness will be in your words and thoughts about them. You will seek for their good, and not seek to expose their sins and weaknesses to others. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 NASB. When God’s love is dwelling in your heart, it will change the way you view the needs of your neighbors, and you will seek to help them. Yes, you are not only your ‘brother’s keeper’ (Genesis 4:9), but you are your ‘neighbor’s keeper’ too!
Do not be like this rich young man, who thought he had it all, but was missing something big! When he found that he needed to give everything he had to help the poor and come and follow Jesus, he went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions. If any do not love their neighbor as themselves, this is what they lack! If this is the case, then they most certainly do not love their Heavenly Father as well, as the first commandment requires. And they do not know Him, because our Heavenly Father most certainly loves everyone on this earth, and is doing everything to help and save them, and so should all who truly love Him. Any who are not thinking enough of the needs of their neighbors should now confess this sin to God, to receive pardon, and grace for help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16), and allow God’s sweet Spirit to animate their heart and life, then they will come and follow Jesus, and have no lack of any good thing that they need! No one who loves God, can turn away from the needs of others, when it is in their power to help them! “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Proverbs 3:27 NASB. This will be a blessing to you if you always help others, when it is in your power to do so!
If you know you fall short in this area, and what you lack is love for your neighbor, there is good news for you! If you will confess your sins to God, and ask Him to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), and willingly yield yourself to Him, then He will forgive you and bless you with new life from Him. No one need stay in this state of lacking the most important thing in their life, love, if they will allow God into their heart, to mold them and shape them. If you are having trouble believing or yielding your heart to God, you can pray, ‘Lord be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18:13), and He will hear your prayer and smile from Heaven on you! And be sure to tell Him you are sorry for not putting Him first, and breaking the first commandment, and make Him the Lord of your life! All this and more your Heavenly Father wants to do for you now!
By John Foll
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