Gain Through Loss

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Posted in Devotional

Gain Through Loss

This article is part of Sister Michelle Watson's deep dive into the concept of "deny yourself" (Mt. 16:24, Mk. 8:34, Lu. 9:23, 3 Ne. 12:30). Today's sub-theme is the concept of "gain through loss."

I can't study a topic like self-denial without taking a good, long look at the rich young ruler (RYR). His story appears in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18.

The only three things we're told about this gentleman is that he's young, rich, and a ruler of some kind, which means he must have power. Being young, he probably still has his looks. Hot dog! This guy's got it all: wealth, status, and just maybe beauty.

He's also what I'd term a "good guy." He grew up keeping the commandments, and he still keeps them. So he's probably not a scoundrel, playboy, or deviant. When I picture him, I see somebody down to earth, successful but likeable, and a deep thinker — he comes to Jesus because he's pondering his immortal soul, after all.

I believe that modern society would totally affirm the RYR. They'd write in his yearbook, "Never change." "Keep doing what you're doing," they'd say during his quarterly evaluation. "You've arrived!" they'd collectively cry.

Mark 10:21 says that Jesus "loved him." But it wasn't an admiring, pedestal-type love. It was the love of a parent who is about to administer correction to a prized and precious child.

Instead of affirming him, Jesus commands, "Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me."

When reading, I asked myself these questions:

Why was keeping the commandments not enough?

I believe Jesus was trying to tear down legalism, which is laws without love — obeying God's rules without recognizing a need for His mercy. Yes, I must keep God's commandments, definitely, no question, for sure. But, besides guiding my behavior in a righteous path, what's the ultimate purpose of the commandments? Why do they even exist if faith is all I need for salvation?

The law shows me that I'm a failure. I can't keep it 100 percent of the time 24/7. I will always try to, but I just can't live up to what it demands.

I need a Savior.

The purpose of the law is to lead me to Jesus again and again, day by day. Galatians 3, particularly verses 11-12 and 24 spell this out for me in stunning, HD clarity. When I pitch pride, I gain grace.

Why did Christ specifically tell him to sell everything?

Does this mean that I need to sell all of my possessions, too? How does this apply to people who don't have any worldly wealth to forsake?

Perhaps Jesus wanted the RYR to realize that life isn't me-centered or stuff-centered by asking him to forsake everything — except a relationship with Him. Gain through loss.

I think the Lord knows what a biggie materialism is for His creation. Wealth promotes

  • A sense of false security
  • A "mine" mentality or "I earned it" attitude
  • Greed for more
  • Pride that I'm better

I think Jesus knows how hard it is for me to exchange my earthly gain for heavenly gain. There will be times when I cannot have both riches and relationship — and I certainly cannot serve both (Matt. 6:24).

It's interesting that in the following verses, Christ tells His disciples about His impending crucifixion. It's like He's saying, "I'm going to lose my all to gain you. Are you willing to lose your all to gain Me?"

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

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Comments (2)

  • Teri-Lyn Tunno

    Teri-Lyn Tunno

    16 March 2016 at 18:28 |
    Very interesting blog Michelle!! Great job! I think that is why the widow who gave up her last two mites was blessed all the more. I have thought about what Jesus had said to the RYR many times wondering if I could do that. I found that it is funny how sometimes my material possessions define me. I had a garage sale once and tried to get rid of things from when I was a kid and some of my mom's stuff who had passed many years prior. The next day I found myself mourning the loss. It was like I lost a piece of my past and I became afraid I lost everything of my mom. We had gotten rid of everything either by selling it or taking it to the Salvation Army. There was only one thing left that was sitting out at the road and it was a potty chair that we used as toddlers. It tore at my heart and I toyed with the idea of going out and getting it but instead I went to Church. When I came home, I told God how I felt and He let me know that she would always be in my heart. It gave me the peace I needed. Still working on getting rid of more stuff so I am free to go where the Lord wants me to go. :)

    reply

    • Sister Michelle Watson

      Sister Michelle Watson

      16 March 2016 at 18:37 |
      Great thoughts, Sister Teri. I, too, attach a lot of sentimental value to objects. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if kept in perspective, and, conversely, I also think it's good to let go, too. Then, I can learn important lessons like you did — that the loss of "things" doesn't necessarily mean the loss of the memory attached to them.

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