I want to tell you a modern story of the Rich Young Ruler. Most of us have heard the story in the Bible where a rich young ruler asks Jesus what he needs to do to have eternal life. He has kept all the commandments but feels there must be something more. He’s right.
My story begins in a golf clubhouse a few years ago.
We’re not big golfers in my family, but my ten-year-old son at the time had taken up golf lessons, so we stopped at a prestigious golf course on our way from Georgia down to Florida while on vacation. It was open to the public so we looked around the grounds and went inside to browse the clubhouse and gift shop. It smelled of expensive wood and leather, with perfectly placed racks of fine embroidered polo shirts, golfing gloves and shoes. There were several impeccably dressed young men who worked there, leisurely standing around the fine wooden accessories. They were polite and smiled, and offered to help. What a nice job to have, I thought to myself. We decided to try the 9-hole golf course with our son so we reserved a tee-time.
“Excuse me,” one of the young men said, “but you must wear a collared shirt on the golf course,” as he glanced over at my son’s t-shirt. We were a little embarrassed at not knowing the proper golf etiquette, but picked out one of the shirts from the racks. We paid for the overpriced polo shirt and headed out to the course.
But something didn’t feel right to me in the shop. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It almost felt too perfect, like they were hiding something. They didn’t seem to be as they appeared, all collared shirts and smiles. I was a little relieved once we left the golf course and continued on our way.
I didn’t think much else about it, but I never forgot it either. A few months later we were sitting in church one Sunday morning when the preacher decides to tell a story about his friend who worked at a prestigious golf club on the way from Georgia down to Florida. My ears perked up. The preacher’s friend had been a very successful business man and a great family man too. He was a good person by any measure. With all of his wealth, he was able to retire early and buy a condo with a view of one of the best golf courses around. He had some free time in his retirement so he began working in the clubhouse. He enjoyed working with the young men in the leisurely job and he had all the money he needed. To pass the time, the young men engaged in recreational drugs in the evenings after work and asked him if he would like to join them. Almost every day they did this, and soon it became a habit and then it became his life. He lost everything – all of his retirement money, his family, his reputation, and his health. He came back to the preacher a very broken man. He said he wished he had never gone there.
In Jesus’ story about the rich young ruler, it is said that Jesus cared deeply for the young man. The man approached Jesus seeking advice, and Jesus gave him an invitation to put aside that which was keeping him from God and to live a life of freedom. It isn’t just about money or selling all your possessions, but it is about gaining freedom from those things that can lead you into harm or keep you from your potential. If you asked Jesus the same question, what do you think He might say is keeping you from hearing God’s voice or having your freedom? Jesus cares for you too.
Matthew 19:16-22 ~ The Rich Young Ruler