“Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” Isa 27: 5.
Both the rich young man and Nicodemus were rulers, and though Nicodemus might not have been as rich as was the young man, he nevertheless was not poor. But why was the one asked to distribute his riches to the poor, and the other told to be born again? Why should not both pay the same price for salvation? Here are the reasons:
To avoid being seen in the company of Jesus, Nicodemus came to Him, not by day, but secretly by night, whereas the young ruler came to Jesus not only openly by day, but also while a multitude were with Jesus. The rich young ruler’s basic hindrance, therefore, was his wealth, and Nicodemus’ basic hindrance was his pride. Plainly, then, the one’s ailment called for one kind of treatment, and the other’s ailment called for another kind of treatment.
Jesus never asked anyone to take His religion, but He asked them to “follow” Him, to be one of His disciples. The rich young ruler could not follow the Lord because his heart was centered upon his own riches. And Nicodemus could not follow the Lord because he was too proud to be seen in the company of unpopular and hated Jesus followed by humble fishermen. To remove the hindrances, the one had to get rid of his riches, and the other had to get rid of his pride. To eradicate pride, one must be born again, must become a new man. But to eradicate the love of money one must give his money to those who really need it.
Nicodemus’ acknowledgment that Jesus was the Son of God made his case exceedingly bad. Knowing who Jesus was, he should not have been ashamed to be seen in His company, nor should he have been afraid of His enemies. He should have considered it a privilege to associate with the Son of God, with a Heavenly Being. But inasmuch as Nicodemus was ashamed to be seen with Him, and was proud to be with the Pharisees, he needed to bury the “old man,” and to arise in newness of life — needed to be born again. The Scriptures bear record that Abraham was very rich. Yet he is called the “friend of God.” Riches in themselves, therefore, can be a blessing, although they more often become a curse. Pride, however, is never good.
Remember that the devil finds in every one of us at least one loop-hole. Whatever that loop-hole be, it must be done away with — be it riches or be it pride. Of course not all are rich and tied to their wealth, but everyone can be tied to himself, the “old man.” And not all need give up riches, but all need cut loose from the “old man” who gets them into everything but what they ought to be in.
1TG, No. 49:4-6