May 28, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Andrew Iskandar, Gracepoint Minneapolis

Luke 18:20-23

How would the giving away of his “great wealth” be the key to gaining the one thing that the rich ruler lacks? By giving away his “great wealth,” the rich rule would gain the one thing he lacked, treasure in heaven. As a rich person in this world, his heart was still in this world and not in heaven. This man’s treasure was his wealth and he couldn’t let it go. Luke 12:34 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And since he couldn’t sell his possessions as Jesus commands him to, it’s clear that his heart is still centered on his wealth and in this world. And so it’s a little ironic that he comes to Jesus seeking the ways to “inherit eternal life.” He says that he wants to have eternal life and to get into heaven, yet his heart is still in this world. He refuses to give up the things he has in this world because he wants to enjoy them and so there’s no real desire or longing for heaven. He doesn’t value heaven for what it means in terms of a restored relationship with God and the brokenness of sin removed. I can see how his wealth also probably sheltered him from the brokenness within him and how sinful he really is. As a wealthy person, he probably had everything he needed and lived a comfortable and sheltered life with little difficulty and struggle. And because he probably got everything he wanted, got his way with people (since he was the rich ruler), and was the envy of others around him, there was little opportunity for him to see how dark and sinful his heart was. And so selling his possessions would have opened the door into seeing his true nature and his sinfulness and push his heart to heaven. Upon seeing his brokenness and depravity of heart, he would have developed a longing for God and the restoration of  his soul  in heaven and see his need for God’s grace and mercy. I know this well because this is my story as well. I lived a comfortable and sheltered life and I thought I was a good person and had little need for God or heaven. And it was only when I left that sheltered life and lived on my own in college that I began to see how sinful and broken I was. And so selling his possessions would have allowed him to receive treasure in heaven by detaching himself from this world and replacing it with a longing for heaven.

  • Why did the rich ruler walk away sad?  What does this say about the gripping effects of “great wealth” even against truth?

The rich ruler walked away sad because he could not sell his possessions and so this meant that he could not receive eternal life and treasure in heaven. And it’s tragic because this man forfeits a relationship with God and Jesus in order to keep his possessions. He knows what the “right” thing to do is because he “walks away sad” at his decision. He is sad that he can’t do what Jesus calls him to do because he wants to hold onto his money. He knows that it’s what he is suppose to do and that it’s the good and right thing to do, but he just can’t. And this just shows the gripping effects of “great wealth” on a person. I personally can see this truth in my life as I try and struggle with the grip money and materialism has on my own life. As I look at my life today, I can objectively say that I am personally more materially wealthy then I was when I was in college and after I graduated. Yet, the ironic thing was that I think I was more “free” with my money when I didn’t have that much of it. I feel like I was more willing to be generous with what I had back then and it wasn’t as big of a concern in my life. Maybe I’m just more aware of the grip money has on my life. But in any case, right now I am struggling more with the grip money has on my life even though I know I have lot. I know the right thing to do with my money is to be generous with it with God and with people and I know the truth that I can really be a source of blessing in this way and so I know what I ought to do with what God has given me. But just like the rich ruler, there are times where I too “walk away sad” because I end up holding onto my money and being possessive about it instead of giving it away. There are many people around me who are financially needy and I can really help them, but I choose to hold onto my money instead. This is selfish and ugly and just reveals how tight of a grip I have on money and money has on me. Being selfish and holding onto money is such a community killer and goes completely against the vision of the Acts 2 church that we are trying to build here in Minnesota. I need to struggle and repent of this selfishness with money and live my life based upon the objective reality and truth that I have a lot and that I have many opportunities to be a source of blessing and love to others around me by being generous.

What did the rich ruler forfeit? The rich ruler forfeited eternal life and treasure in heaven by refusing to let go of his wealth. Commentators say that he might have been the 13th disciple if he had decided to let go of his wealth and decided to follow Jesus. And if that’s the case, he also missed out on a personal relationship with Jesus and experiencing the many things Peter and John and the other Apostles did during and after Jesus’ ministry in this world.

What did he keep?  How temporary was this? In the end, the rich ruler ended up keeping his money and worldly possessions and these things are all temporary. The longest they last for him to enjoy is his life span. Once he dies, these things are no longer relevant. And so it’s tragic that this man forfeits something that lasts for eternity for something temporal. This seems like the worse kind of exchange possible. But this is the kind of exchange I make as well when I choose to hold onto money instead of using it to store up treasure in heaven. I can use my money to help build the church and bring souls into heaven. I can use my money to develop my relationships with people by loving them and being generous with them. And by being generous and letting go of money, I also develop my relationship with God as I learn to trust in Him to be my provider and recognize His Lordship in my life. All of these things are eternal and heaven bound things and so I should really struggle to let go of money and see it as a means to gain heavenly treasure instead of just keeping it for this life.

Luke 18:24-30

29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers 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.”

In what ways does God make the seemingly impossible task of letting go of “great wealth” possible? God makes the seemingly impossible task of letting go “great wealth” possible by promising that I will “receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come.” When I let go of something to follow Him, it’s not like I do it in a vacuum, but God acknowledges what I’ve done and will multiple the blessing back onto me in this present life and in the life to come. He is my Heavenly Father and will provide for me so that I can be free to let go of things that I consider precious in this world. I don’t have to fear about my future security for God promises to provide for all of my needs.

What happens when we let go of what is precious in our lives for the Kingdom of God? When I let go what is precious, God multiplies it “in this age and, in the age to come” but not only in my life but also in the lives of those around me. It’s very much like the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. If I let go of what I consider precious in my life, my 5 loaves and 2 fish, God can use it and multiply it to be a source of blessing in my life as well as in the lives of those around me. As I let go of things that are precious to me, my time, my energy, my money, my life, etc. and give it to be used for the Kingdom of God, He multiplies so that it can bless people around me. Not only here in this world but also in heaven. I think about the people I’ve reached out to and how some of them have become Christian because of a simple decision so get out of myself and go to the Dining Hall and eat with a lonely person or invite someone over to play some board games. Or how giving some money to purchase something for church that could be used and enjoyed by many multiplies the joy of fellowship and blessing in this world. Or the experience of dying to myself and loving children here in America or in Cambodia and the paradoxical joy of receiving when I give. All of these times are moments where I decided to let go of something precious to me and God multiplied it here in this life and in heaven as well.
The rewards of discipleship are both present and future.  How have I experienced this in my life? I have experienced the rewards of discipleship in both the present and the future specifically through my time in Taiwan and what I experienced there. I remember the struggle that I had in terms of making that decision and I was fearful about taking that step of faith because of the very reason that prevented this rich rule from following Jesus, money. I didn’t want to lose the security of the good job that I had and the vesting of stock options that it offered. But I decided to take a step of faith and God really multiplied and honored my decision and made v.29-30 really come true in my life. He knew what I decided to let go of in order to obey and serve Him and He gave me much more then I could ever imagine. The things I learned and experienced in Taiwan are worth so much more to me then the dollars that I would have earned/kept if I had stayed in America. I experienced growing in community and relationship with people and with God serving in the small church in Taiwan. I learned to be faithful in being a herald and an apostle, sowing seeds wherever possible and making the most of every opportunity regardless of the “results” that come. I grew closer in understanding God’s heart for the broken and lost as I tried to share the Gospel message with the people in Taiwan who were so lost in materialism and idol worship. And finally I learned the joy of seeing people come to Christ after many people’s acts of love and prayer and the preciousness of each person’s soul who comes to Christ. I would NEVER go back and exchange that year for any amount of money that you could give me. God indeed multiplied many times over what I gave Him. And ever after I returned back to America, He gave to me a similar job with an even better salary relative to the cost of living in Minnesota! God truly honors and blesses those who give to Him in this world and in the world to come.

Submitted by Ahmi Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley

Luke 18:20-23

How would the giving away of his “great wealth” be the key to gaining the one thing that the rich ruler lacks?

Giving away his “great wealth” would have enabled the rich ruler to follow Jesus as He commanded. However, if he kept his “great wealth”, he would be tied to the responsibilities and demands of it, and, therefore, unable to follow Him.

Giving it away would have freed him from calculating how much he could give to others or what he needs to keep for himself versus what he needed to give to Jesus.

Why did the rich ruler walk away sad?  What does this say about the gripping effects of “great wealth” even against truth?

He might have walked away sad because 1) he recognized what Jesus said as the truth. If he did not think it was true, he would have reacted more negatively, like angry, bitter and hostile against Jesus, as the way Pharisees tended to do against Jesus’ claims. 2) he recognized that he was not willing to live according to the truth.

This testifies to how gripping the effect of “great wealth” is against truth, in that, he could fully agree with Jesus, yet choose to remain exactly where he was, b/c the comforts of that wealth is so great.

Often times, I find myself or others fooled by my own agreement to truth, but agreeing and living it out can be compartmentalized unless carried out in concrete obedience to Jesus’ call to give it away.

What did the rich ruler forfeit?

He forfeited gaining the greatest wealth of all, knowing Jesus and gaining eternity. He forfeited the true great wealth that would last.

What did he keep?  How temporary was this?

He kept his great wealth which was only while he was alive on earth.

Luke 18:24-30

In what ways does God make the seemingly impossible task of letting go of “great wealth” possible?

I know that He has made it possible with step by step commands to obey. And, when we do obey at each moment, the next step is doable. He also has made it possible by surrounding me with likeminded people who also let it go, so that the great wealth does not seem so great. In the church, it is also made possible through meeting one another’s needs.

I know that He has made it possible as well, when I experience the great heavenly wealth of lives saved, and I get to see the eternal stakes involved.

What happens when we let go of what is precious in our lives for the Kingdom of God?

Jesus said, we would gain “many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” I recall the saying by Charles Stanley, that we could never outgive God. When we let go of what is precious in our lives for Jesus, we receive the heavenly rewards of spiritual relationships that last unto the heavens.

I find it interesting how the focus of “great wealth” shifts from money that the rich ruler will not give up to “home or wife or brothers or parents or children.” Jesus recognized that what was precious to his disciples, the “great wealth” that they left behind, was their home and family. What Peter and the disciples gained in return was a wealth of spiritual relationships through salvations that would last into eternity, of knowing that he did what His master asked of him. B/c they left everything, they were able to understand and experience the resurrected Christ and the cross of Jesus firsthand.

Even for their families, the best thing the disciples could have done was to give up all and follow Jesus. That showed them what the greatest wealth was, and led them to be able to experience it themselves.


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