DO NOT JUDGE THE RICHIn Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18:18-30, we find what has become known as "The Parable of the Rich Young Ruler." However, there is no evidence that the three Gospel accounts are describing a parable. No parable in the Bible speaks of specific individuals; genuine parables must be interpreted in order to determine the identity of the characters in the parabolic illustration. [Another example of this is found in Luke 16:19-31. Because Lazarus is specifically named, most conservative Bible scholars accept that the truth Jesus was teaching was to be taken literally.]
That we recognize the event was a historical event, is extremely important! For if it was meant to be a parable, then the truth being taught could be applied to every rich person. However, if it was a historical event, with a specific person involved, then the "truth" would not necessarily apply to every rich person. Nowhere else in the Gospels does Jesus tell the rich to sell everything they have, give the money to the poor, and to follow Him. Therefore, His instructions should be applied to that individual, at that time, and in that place. And while Luke's Gospel describes him as a "ruler" (Lk. 18:18), none of the three accounts describe him as "young." In fact, being a "ruler" in Israel required a man to be at least thirty years of age (Num. 4:3-47; 2 Sam. 5:4; 1 Chr. 23:3; Lk. 3:23; etc.).
DO NOT JUDGE THE POORPerhaps the best example of people judging the poor can be found in the life of Job. The Lord used the sudden loss of Job's possessions, his servants, and his children, to prove to Satan that Job loved Him (Job 1:8-19). Job's response to being made childless and a pauper, was awesome. "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and
said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (v. 20-22)! Even after Satan was allowed to torture Job, Job's response to his foolish wife was "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips" ((2:3-10). A week later, his three "friends," initially planning to comfort Job (2:11-13), soon began telling Job that his loss of family and sudden poverty was the direct result of his sin (Ch. 4:1-42:1-6). Ironically, God rebuked the three, and only after the poor Job prayed for them, were they forgiven (42:7-9). It was not until after Job prayed for them, that God restored all that Job had lost (42:10-17).
GOD DETERMINES WHO IS RICH AND WHO IS POOR FOR A REASONThe moral of the story, or stories, is that we do not know why someone is rich and someone else is poor; only God knows why. 1 Samuel 2:7 says, "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up." Job said, "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job. 1:21). Solomon, in acknowledging that man's status is determined by God, prayed, "Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full, and deny Thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain" (Prov. 30:8-9).
All things work together for good when it is God that does them!