Our Daughter, Alyssa, has been helping us out by power washing our house — and boy did it need it! My guess is that it had been years since it had been done… and it is even possible, that it had never been done. The results are beyond noticeable – they are actually startling. The white gutters and soffits were coated in years of grime. The siding had a layer of dirt on it, and the shuttlers were filthy.
What a difference a little water pressure made though! What is supposed to be white actually is now! The siding has a new fresh look, and our house has a much better appearance. Yep, a little maintenance is a good thing.
You know, our daughter cleaning our dirty house this week reminded me of an encounter that Jesus once had with a young man who was seeking truth. The story that we know as The Rich Young Ruler. He sought Jesus out to ask him a poignant question — How to have eternal life. I find it compelling that he knew the right question to ask Jesus… and troubling that he chose not to follow Jesus’ challenge.
The young man claimed to have obeyed all of the commandments that were contained in the Law. To not covet… to honor his parents… to not steal, lie or kill. You can almost hear the pride in his voice when he tells Jesus, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Luke 18:21 But of course Jesus is able to see into his heart, and so he issues one more challenge… “Sell everything you own and then come follow me,” Jesus said. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that the young man walked away sad… because he was unwilling to part with his wealth.
Was wealth actually the young man’s problem? Not really. His real issue was that he was relying on his own self righteousness efforts to find the answer to his question of having eternal life, instead of acknowledging his need for knowing Jesus. Jesus knew that… so when the young man claimed to have obeyed all the commandments, Jesus raised the bar a bit higher by pointing out his total self-dependance in his life.
You see, Jesus wanted him to understand that you just can’t clean yourself up through self-righteous practice. Sure, you might look good on the outside, but you will always have an internal heart issue. Instead, we need Jesus to apply his righteousness to our lives. We must give up our self-dependance and depend on him, because when we rely on own righteousness we really just have a power-washed exterior.