Lord, our affections are set on You.
Read LUKE 18:18–30
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 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.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
a Luke 18:20 Exodus 20:12-16; Deut. 5:16-20
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“When people become self-centered, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart becomes, the more he or she needs things to buy, own, and consume.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si (encyclical on the environment), Catholic Truth Society, 2015)
This tragic story emphasizes the sadness attaching to the rich, young ruler’s actions when confronted with the one thing he is unwilling to give up. I think that Jesus shares in his sadness.
If ever there were a prophetic story for our generation, this is it. The ruler is seeking some reassurance that his godly actions justify his lifestyle. Jesus cuts straight to his heart and the big issue of his life. This man’s wealth has made his life comfortable and has given him prestige. Jesus identifies the source of his security and identity, confronting him with a challenge to walk away from it. The implication is that he would be even more secure if he would follow Jesus and forsake his wealth. His reluctance to comply underlines Jesus’ point – it is so hard for the rich to enter God’s kingdom. Yet Jesus reassures us that what is impossible with man is possible with God – after all, salvation is God’s gift; it cannot be earned.
Does Jesus ask all believers to sell everything? Is it wrong to be wealthy? It is well worth wrestling with these difficult questions. What he certainly asks is that we rid ourselves of anything that has become more important in our lives than God. If your wealth and possessions (and most people reading this are among the wealthiest two percent on planet earth!) come first in your life, it would certainly be better for you to get rid of them and trust in Christ for your security.
What could you let go of to take hold of something that will give You true purpose and joy? In surrendering fully to Christ, we find liberation and life, and this alone leads to real security. The world’s riches cannot satisfy, and it is worth letting them go to take hold of the riches of Christ.
Remind us, oh Lord, that we must be willing to forsake whatever You require of us on an individual basis in order to follow You.