When a man asks Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life,” he is showing proper respect for Jesus by calling him good.

Jesus, however, is quick to assert that only God is truly good.

If ever anyone deserved the label of “good,” it was Jesus. But instead he offers this accolade up to God his Father as an affirmation of God’s character.

Then Jesus reminds the man of the Ten Commandments.

The man asserts he has kept them all since he was a boy; he is effectively saying, “I’ve been good.” He seems to miss Jesus’ teaching that only God is good.

But merely being good is not enough. Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give away the proceeds. This is easy when we have little, but harder when we have a lot; the man has much. The idea of giving it all away distresses him and he leaves.

Though it might be unwise to turn this story into a rule, for this man, at least, being good is not good enough; being generous is what’s required.

[Luke 18:18-23]

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4 Comments

  • mrjkitch Posted August 16, 2012 6:16 am

    Are you sure it would be unwise to turn this story into a rule? The early church turned it into a rule, and abolished poverty amongst themselves. 🙂

    Acts 4:34

    • Peter DeHaan Posted August 16, 2012 8:45 am

      mrjkitch, that’s a great observation! Thanks for your insight (and smiley).

      I’d prefer to say the early church turned it into a “principle.” If this becomes a rule it implies that giving away everything is a requirement for eternal life.

      • mrjkitch Posted August 16, 2012 4:15 pm

        Some might argue that the same could be said of the things that Jesus said to a man named Nicodemus.

  • Peter DeHaan Posted August 16, 2012 7:50 pm

    mrjkich, Nicodemus is a great example — and his response was much better than the rich young ruler I cited in my post.

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