July 16

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by Josie Self

Luke 18:22 - ONE THING YOU LACK

Theme: Generosity - Rich Young Ruler asked to give up all he had to follow Jesus.

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life? “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good.But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

-Luke 18:18-29

Many of us can relate to the rich young ruler. He was so concerned about the end result of his faith (getting into heaven) that he missed what Jesus was asking from him. He was good at following the rules, but completely missed the heart of the Father. Similarly, we’ve learned to follow God’s commands and check off a list of “Christian” behaviors and place God in a box, but we withhold the one thing He truly seeks. This is where I see the rich young ruler. He had the commands down: don’t commit adultery, don’t muder or steal, don’t testify falsely, obey your parents. But his faith has stopped there. He knew what to do, but not the why behind it. He asked Jesus “what must I do to deserve eternal life?” In a sense, he’s asking “what other boxes do I need to chek?” How many of us have treated our relationship with God like a checklist? Go to church. Check. Read my Bible. Check. Listen to a worship song. Check. While these things are good and help us build spiritual discipline, what Jesus is getting at is that they are not the end goal for our faith. Take a moment and reflect. In what ways has your faith become a checklist for your ticket to heaven?

Now let’s look at what Jesus actually asks. “Sell everything you have and give the money to the poor. THEN you will have treasure in heaven.” The rich young ruler’s response is so similar to what I’ve seen in my life and in so many others. We’re totally fine to check the boxes, but what God actually wants is for us to abandon the comforts of this life for the benefit of others so that we could access the treasures of heaven. It’s at this point that many turn back. Sell everything I have? Surely that doesn’t mean everything. Here’s the thing. God isn’t after our money, He’s after our hearts. All too often though, we idolize and hoard the possessions that hold the most value to us. When we’re tied to and worshipping our most prized possessions, our hearts are unavailable to be tied to God. So what does He ask us to do? Surrender the things that hinder us from fully worshipping and fully belonging to Him.

This command isn’t without recognition of it’s struggle. Jesus even makes the dramatic analogy that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Inheriting eternal life requires a complete transformation of our priorities and worship. Each of us has something that we hold dear that God asks us to surrender so that our hearts could more fully align with Him. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t love to bless His children, but we need to ask ourselves the question, “am I more concerned with the gift or the giver of the gift?” When we focus our hearts on the giver, we’re much more obedient to what He asks us to do and this actively positions us to receive the treasures of eternal life while also blessing and serving those in this life.

Spend some time reflecting on these questions:

  1. In what areas of my life has God blessed me immensely? What gifts do I have?
  2. Do I feel resistance in your spirit when I hear that God wants me to give away what’s valuable to me? Spend a few minutes reflecting on why that would be.
  3. In what ways have I viewed my faith as a checklist of spirituality instead of posture of worship and surrender to God?
  4. What might God be asking me to give away so that my heart could be fully available to Him?

2 Corinthians 9:7 says “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

Giving doesn’t make us more righteous than others, but it positions our hearts to be available to Jesus. When we rid ourselves of idolizing and holding onto our possessions, we free ourselves to be used by God for His plans and purposes. What a joy that God wants to be with us and use us to bless others!

What has God laid on your heart to give? Spend some time reflecting on what God is asking you to surrender to Him. Not because He wants your money, but because He wants your heart. Choose what you will give and then give cheerfully as an act of worship, not an obligation. What is most important to you? Is God asking you to tithe for the first time? To donate some of your nice clothes? To babysit for a neighbor without asking for payment?

Your challenge today is to give one thing away cheerfully. Ask God, obey, and then enjoy growing closer to Him!