Vol.XV No.VIII Pg.3
October 1978

A Neglected Question

Dan S. Shipley

Among the most disappointing stories related in the Bible is the one about the remarkable young man who comes running to Jesus with the important question about eternal life (Matt. 19; Mk. 10; Lk. 18). His composite picture as set forth in the Scriptures is impressive. Not only does he have youth, he also has position and wealth (the very things that seem to keep many from Jesus!). In addition, he is one of high moral character, having kept the commandments of God from youth. However, his crowning quality is revealed in the question, "What lack I yet?"; he is still seeking to improve himself! Who couldn't respect such a man?

But, then comes the disappointing part of the story. It comes when Jesus tells him something he evidently didn't want or expect to hear. Because Jesus knew his heart, He also knew his lack. "And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said unto him, one thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. But his countenance fell at the saying, and he went away sorrowful..." (Mk. 10:21, 22). To him the price of following Jesus and gaining eternal life was more than he was willing to pay.

In one way or another, many are repeating the tragic mistake of this young man. Their decision may not be so obvious, but it's the same in that they demonstrate an unwillingness to give up their ways in favor of His. So, they too go away. Oh, not necessarily away from the church building, or away from religion or morality — but they go THEIR way and reject His rule. And worse, many go their way without seriously considering the needful, yet easily suppressed question, "what lack I yet?"

Consequently, this needful question becomes the neglected question. Why? Obviously, because of the unwelcomed and incriminating answer! And that poses still another question: "Do I really want to know wherein I am lacking?" If not, the other question means nothing. I once knew of a man being considered for elder who invited the offering of any possible objections to his serving. He got plenty. Then, he got plenty mad and began objecting about his objectors! Those who don't want to know of their "lack" will always be lacking — they will forever be going away from Jesus.

On the other hand, those who sincerely seek improvement WANT to know of their lack; they WANT to know what can keep them from heavenly treasures and eternal life. Jesus alludes to the necessity of such a spirit when he tells the young ruler, "if thou wouldest be perfect..." Strong desire underlies every worthwhile achievement, whether doing or learning. "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching..." (Jn. 7: 17). He who truly hungers and thirsts after righteousness (who wants to be right more than all else) will continually confront himself with the question, "what lack I yet?" If he is willing to listen, the Lord still answers through His word. It provides all things that make us complete (2 Tim. 3:16,17). The question is, will I face the question?