He seemed to have it all. He was rich. He was powerful. He was young. And he was a "good" guy. But he was spiritually obtuse, giving a self-righteous answer to Jesus’ question, showing very little self-knowledge. Interestingly, this spiritual weakness and ignorance does not elicit disdain or impatience from Jesus, but love! And then, out of love, Jesus tells the man to do something enormously hard — to sell all his possessions and give to the poor. The rich young man went away sad. We will too, if we only hear the "good teacher" (moralism) slamming us about money, slamming us about our time, slamming us about our talents. But 2 Corinthians 8:9 (look it up) reminds us of something critical. Jesus says to us, as it were, “I was a rich young ruler too, but I had a wealth, comfort, and status infinitely beyond what you had. And I lost infinitely more than you did — all to get you! To have you! To get you I had to leave my cosmic wealth and go to the depths of infinite misery and poverty so that I could save you. If I could leave all that for you, why can’t you be willing to set aside your money for me?” When we see Jesus as the true “rich young ruler,” we will be able to put all we have in his hands. We will see that his righteousness is our real spiritual wealth, and we won’t look to earthly riches to define us. Then, and only then, our money will become just money. It will stop being our security and significance.
There is a kind of social justice that arises not from boredom or moralistic fervor but gratitude. It is a kind of justice that's impossible to rush. It has to be primed - like water through a pump. It takes time for the gospel to work it's way from Heaven into our hearts before it begins to work itself out from our hearts to the world around us.