Learning Through Omission

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’” 

– Mark 10:17,19-20

As I read the story of this rich young man, I envision a very zealous and successful lad with a real heart for the Lord. As he approached Jesus, his question was specific, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Although he was enjoying a comfortable existence, he felt like something was missing, and he had enough wisdom to know that his mortality would catch up with him eventually. Interestingly, the Lord’s response to him contains a very powerful lesson that is frequently missed due to a lack of cultural understanding. Since everyone hearing this encounter would have had the Ten Commandments memorized, when Jesus began listing off certain ones, they would have understood immediately that He was leaving some out. Things such as, “I am the Lord your God,” “You shall have no other gods before me,” “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain,” and “You shall not covet” were omitted to make a point to the young man. Though he affirmed that he had followed the commands Jesus listed since birth, by not quoting the rest, the Lord was pointing out that there were other factors as work in his life; things such as idolatry and covetousness were making it difficult for him to hold his stuff loosely.

My friend, it’s wise to take an assessment of your relationship with God and recognize that while there are things that are going well, other aspects of your nature may be pulling you down. Though you inherited eternal life at the moment you trusted in Jesus, living in the fullness of His presence here on earth requires walking as His disciple and dying to yourself…again and again and again. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal the parts of you that rage to take control and fight to subdue the Holy Spirit’s powerful work within. Then, surrender those battles to Him, receive His healing and forgiveness, and walk in the fullness of His overcoming power!


Jesus, show me the root of my struggles and help me to surrender every battle and blessing to you.


If Jesus were teaching you through this story, which of the commandments might he omit? (see Exodus 20:2-17)

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