One Fatal Flaw
Updated: Aug 28
Chan Gin Kai
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.’”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:18-25)
For Achilles, it was his heel. For Hamlet, it was his indecisiveness; and for Juliet, her impulsiveness. Greek and Shakespearean tragedies were all crafted around the one fatal flaw of the protagonists, the one inherent defect or error of judgment that caused the downfall of the heroes or heroines.
“You still lack one thing.”
That’s what Jesus said to the rich young ruler. He had one fatal flaw that stumbled him.
For the rich young ruler, it was his great wealth. He had obeyed all the commandments, and he did everything right. “All these I have kept since I was a boy”, he said. It takes a certain confidence to be able to say that to Jesus.
But despite such incredible achievements, Jesus pointed out his one stumbling block — his wealth. Now, Christianity is not a religion that’s reserved only for the poor, and having money is certainly not a sin. But for the rich young ruler, it was the one thing he put above following Jesus. This was his Achilles’ heel, the one fatal flaw that caused his downfall.
The rich young ruler may have been a paragon of virtue, but I doubt if he had only one weakness. Is there any person with only one flaw? But Jesus saw his one fatal flaw, the biggest weakness that could really stumble him, and addressed it.
If Jesus were to tell me, “You still lack one thing”, what would that one thing be?
I’ll be the first to admit that I have many weaknesses. That’s not necessarily because I am humble, but because I refuse to face the biggest of my weaknesses. Narrowing down on that one thing that can really stumble me means I’ll be forced to face it, and that’ll demand change. It sounds more noble to tell others that I am working on many things than to admit that I am not dealing with the biggest weakness in my life.
Just as Jesus led the young man to focus on his one fatal flaw, I am led by this passage to face mine today. The weakness that stops me from getting closer to God is my Self-Reliance.
My relationship with Jesus is one based on commitment. I’ve made a decision to follow him, and I intend to do it. It is about integrity and keeping to my promises. But is it about love?
I’ve always struggled to feel what David described in Psalm 23, like a sheep secure in the shepherd’s care. That’s because I don’t want to be defenceless and require others' protection. I’ll rather be the shepherd, or the lion, or even the big bad wolf. I’ll rather be strong enough to protect and comfort others, than to be weak and requiring help.
This fear of putting complete trust in others, including even in God, is my one fatal flaw. I want control of my own life and to never feel vulnerable. In a sense, I’ve been stupid enough to try playing alpha male with God!
But if we’re to ponder a little deeper, there is something really beautiful about being like a sheep, devoid of fears, worries or battles. Haven’t I grown tired of being anxious and weary of fighting alone?
Without accepting Jesus as my shepherd, I can never feel peace. I have chosen to walk alone, fighting the vagaries of life with my limited strength even though Jesus is always beside me. I have deprived myself of the amazing lightness, security and joy that comes from relying on Jesus, all because of my misconception that reliance is weakness. It has prevented me from truly following Jesus.
This is the one thing I lack. What is yours?
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.