What Do You Love Most?
Reading: Luke 18:18-30
A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” [NASB1995®]
Today we meditate on the word of the Lord as we read about this encounter of Jesus with a prominent young man (rich, other translations say).
What was this man’s life like? It is clear that he was not a person who was living in very obvious sins; on the contrary, it was someone who was concerned about his eternal destiny. He had tried to obey the commandments, had an orderly life in appearance, and yet he did not experience confidence or security. The fruit of religiosity is exactly that: fear, doubt, and uncertainty.
The question: The young man’s question has two aspects on which I would like to reflect. On the one hand, there is a genuine interest in knowing how to have eternal life. There is an awareness that things in this world are not lasting. But, on the other hand, what the young man asks is what he can do.
The response: The Lord’s answer has two parts. In the first one he tells this young man to obey the commandments. The young man says he has obeyed them. He refers to his external behavior, so he can say he has obeyed. And then Jesus points to what is central in the young man’s life. (He knows his heart, He knows what this young man loves most of all). The indication of selling all his goods and handing it over to the poor points directly to the root of this young man’s problem. His love for money was greater than his love for God. And the young man left, sad, because what Jesus asks him to do is impossible.
And now what? Jesus says, so that all may hear, that it is difficult for those who are rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because they cling in such a way to their possessions. “Who can then be saved?” people ask. No one, by his merits or his good works, can be saved. It is not possible for men. But nothing is impossible for God.
Only the Gospel of Christ has the power to save. Only the Gospel can tear down the idols of our lives. Only the Gospel can transform our hearts.
It is worth it: Some may consider the Kingdom’s demand to be high. But by the Gospel we understand that there is nothing more valuable than the Kingdom of God. The Lord’s promise is that we will enjoy Him forever.
MEDITATE: We need to allow the Word of the Lord to examine our hearts and eradicate our idols.
Scripture quotation taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.