WHAT LACK I YET?
T. Pierce Brown
In Matthew19:20there is a question that is filled with meaning for each of us. The rich young ruler asked, “What lack I yet?” Jesus told him only one thing. In verse 21 Jesus said unto him, “If thou wouldest be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” But that one thing involved several. We may need to examine ourselves in the light of what Jesus said to him and ask the same question. We may find some answers about what we lack that may surprise us.
First, he lacked humility. He thought he had kept the whole law, but he had not. He did not love his neighbor as himself, and he was covetous.
Second, he lacked recognition of true values. This is especially the curse of this generation. We are like a little child, scrambling in the gutter for a piece of broken glass, when real diamonds are all around us. And even when we recognize the value of a thing, we many times do not realize it has to be properly connected to Christ to have real value. In World War II, I was serving in the 8th Air Force, and was told that when the Russians came intoGermany, many of them had never seen plumbing. When they saw water coming out of the faucets in the sinks, they ripped them off the walls and carried them back to their tents in the vain hope that they could have running water there. But there was no connection to the source of supply. Solomon learned that riches, wisdom, power and honor were not the really valuable things and told us that fearing God and keeping his commandments is of more value. Solomon said it was so, but Jesus showed it was so.
The young man lacked self-surrender or self-denial. In Matthew 16:24 we find, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Sixty years ago I thought that meant we must deny ourselves some of the things we might want that were sinful or hindrances. But that is not what he said. He said one must deny himself. That will involve denying himself other things, but when one has denied himself, the other kinds of denial will come easily. One must deny himself certain things if he wants an education, or wealth, or strength, or skill, or a family or various other things. But following Christ involves more than denying ourselves certain things. It involves denying self the right to rule in our lives.
In the case of the rich young ruler, his possessions had become so much a part of his life that if he had done what Jesus said it would have amounted to denying himself. It may be so in our case, for there is little doubt that in some cases our possessions seem to mean more to us than life.
Of course the young man lacked the proper sense of the value of his soul. But do we not in this man see our own image in many respects? What do you lack in becoming a Christian? Or, if you are a Christian, what do you lack in being as Christlike as you should?