“What Am I Still Lacking?”

Text: Matthew 19:16-22

The rich young ruler was spiritually minded (interested in eternal life, v. 16), religious (he kept the commandments, v. 18-20), and was interested in improving his service to God (asked what he was lacking, v. 20). He seemed to be a good man with a good attitude who showed a lot of promised in becoming a faithful disciple. But in the end, he went away sorrowful (v. 22), presumably because he was unwilling to do what Jesus said (v. 21).

We need to be like the rich young ruler – desiring to grow and improve our service to God. On the other hand, unlike the rich young ruler, once we know what we are lacking, we must work toward improving and fixing these areas of our lives. This lesson will examine some ways in which we may be lacking in our service to God.

Proper Priorities (Matthew 19:20-22)

  • This was the rich young ruler’s problem – not that he was rich, but that he valued his riches too highly
  • Jesus, as omniscient God in the flesh (Colossians 2:9), would know this about him – it is not a requirement of all Christians with “much property” to sell it & give it all away (1 Timothy 6:10, 17-18)
  • We must put spiritual things first (Matthew 6:33)

Understanding (Matthew 15:15-16)

  • Jesus condemned the Pharisees for vain worship because they elevated the commands of men (Matthew 15:6-9)
  • Jesus explained the reason for this condemnation (Matthew 15:10-11); but Peter needed further clarification; he lacked understanding
  • We are commanded to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17) – requires honesty (John 7:17), study (2 Timothy 2:15), and critical thinking (2 Peter 3:16)

Self-Control (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)

  • Paul makes the point that one of the benefits of marriage is that it helps one to avoid sexual immorality – God designed marriage as the place in which sexual desires could be fulfilled (Hebrews 13:4)
  • Often one is tempted to sin because he lacks self control (1 Corinthians 7:5) – married or not, we need self-control
  • Not just to avoid sexual immorality, but every type of sin – necessary for discipleship (Luke 9:23)

Endurance (James 1:2-4)

  • Trials are not pleasant – this is why James told them to “consider it all joy“; this is not a natural reaction
  • Why rejoice? … trials lead to endurance, which leads to perfection, completeness, and being lacking in nothing
  • Entering the kingdom of God is associated with tribulation (Acts 14:22) – we need to develop endurance so we will finish the race (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Wisdom (James 1:5)

  • Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be filled with knowledge & spiritual wisdom (Colossians 1:9) – Why? … so that they could live in such a way as to please God (Colossians 1:10)
  • If we lack wisdom, we must pray for it – do so in faith (James 1:6-8)
  • Then what? Wait to receive it miraculously? … No – learn and practice the word of God (James 1:21-22)


  • As long as we live, there will be room to grow in our service to God
  • We must desire to grow & improve our service to God – like the rich young ruler
  • Then we must actually take the steps necessary to grow – unlike the rich young ruler

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