A recent LDS Church News editorial entitled, "'What Do I Lack'" suggests some modern applications of the parable of the rich young ruler found in Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30.
But do we not see in the rich, young ruler a parallel of our own condition today? He is perhaps an ancient counterpart to the modern-day high achiever, agenda-driven and task-list-oriented, hoping to accumulate enough tally marks to earn his way into heaven.
Consider the circumstances; He was well-versed in the law of Moses, having known and observed the commandments from his youth. Presumably, he was industrious and talented, having attained both wealth and position. And, ostensibly at least, he was fervent and sincere in his desire to do right, as he rushed to obtain counsel from the Master. Yet, in his heart he must have felt the troubling impression that something was still missing.
One of my favorite books is a young adult book (ages 12-18) entitled The Bronze Bow. It won The Newberry Medal in 1962. The book is about Daniel, a boy during the time of Christ. Daniel's parents were killed by the Romans. His sister was permanently altered by the experience. Daniel is bitter. He hates the Romans and lives to see their rule end.
Daniel is drawn to Jesus and Jesus' teachings. Daniel manages to have a private conversation with Him when Jesus asks what is troubling him. Jesus listens. In reply, Jesus recounts the story of the rich young ruler to Daniel. Daniel replies, "I would give you all I have." Jesus tells him that riches aren't keeping him from the Kingdom. He tells Daniel, "You must give up your hate."
This conversation marks one of the most powerful lessons in the book and a poignant example of forgiveness. It also provides an example of taking up one's cross.
Indeed, taking up one's cross might mean different specific things to different individuals. For example it might entail letting go of the sort of pride wherein learning and self-regarded sophistication engender an attitude of fault-finding toward others, the Lord's anointed in particular.The article's suggestion is one that I develop in my series on materialism and the one on corruption.
Above all, taking up one's cross seems to mean total and unreserved surrender of one's own will to that of the Master.Completely subordinating our own desires to what Heavenly Father would have us do is truly taking up one's cross.