“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” – Matthew 19:21.

Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Ruler was always a sad story to me. His riches were too precious to give up. I must beware of being attached to riches.

While that lesson is present, we can easily miss an important contrast if we stop there.

When Jesus told Matthew to follow him, “…he left all, rose up, and followed Him.” – Luke 5:28. 

When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him, “…they forsook all, and followed Him.” – Luke 5:11. 

Matthew left behind a steady job working for an empire that would last another four hundred years.

The other four left a fishing career that had just seen their biggest catch.

By saying “follow me”, Jesus invited the Rich Young Ruler to be one of his rabbinical students. Just like he did with those five guys.

Something most Jewish father’s dreamed for their sons.

And Jesus didn’t ask anything of the Rich Young Ruler that He hadn’t asked from the others. But do you see the contrast?

They chose a life with Jesus, and He chose the life he already had.

Call to Discipleship

The Rich Young ruler isn’t so much about riches or privilege. It’s about answering Jesus when He calls you. We can know this is true because Peter brings up the contrast  afterwards.

“Then Peter answered and said to Him, Look, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” – Matthew 19:27.

Peter’s puffed-up question is a subject for a different time. But the point stands.

Do I believe following Jesus is of greater worth than following myself?

Jesus may not be asking me to give all my stuff to the poor. But what is He asking me to do? Am I willing to leave behind whatever I must to do what He wants me to do?

I’m so thankful that the Lord promises a reward to those who follow Him. I am very grateful for the examples of godly men and women who did leave valuable things behind to be obedient to the Lord. I’m thankful I got to watch how the blessings of God are greater than anything I can achieve on my own.

Maybe take some time today to ask the Lord if there’s anything He wants to you leave behind? And when He puts His finger on something, lay it down, knowing that “you shall receive a hundredfold now in this time…and in the world to come eternal life.” – Mark 10:30.