March 15 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 18)

Submitted by Chul K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 18:18

  • The rich ruler seemed to have everything in life including “righteousness”, and yet he comes asking about eternal life.  What is the relationship between what I possess, the sense of lack I feel, and eternal life?

The more I possess, the less I would feel the sense of lack.  We can possess a lot of good things in our lives if we are fortunate enough – good parents, good education, good personality, wealth, and health. If I hold onto these things as if they were essential ingredients of my life, my life would always be sheltered and I would be utterly deluded about myself and I would not recognize the glaring need for my salvation. Even if I did recognize something is missing in my life, I may not see this lacking as something that deserves total transformation in my life. Rather, I would see my yearning for eternal life (right relationship with God) as something I would like to add to my already going-well life as another good thing.

Luke 18:19

  • What is Jesus trying to get the rich ruler to see through the question in v. 19?

Jesus wanted to teach this deluded young man that “being good” is not something any human being can reach. Only God is good. If he wants to call Jesus good, he should acknowledge that Jesus is good because he is God.  Man cannot achieve this goodness through his accomplishment or possessions. Jesus tried to get this man to see his shallow and naïve understanding about “being good” as well as his total delusion about his own righteousness.

Luke 18:20-22

  • How might wealth enable one to keep those commandments?

When someone grows up in a rich family, everything would be provided for him. So, there would not be much temptation for stealing and coveting the properties of others, which made it easy for him to keep those commandments.

  • What does the rich ruler lack as revealed by his response to Jesus’ invitation?

He lacked in his discernment as well as willingness in recognizing his great wealth as something he should surrender before God. He probably did not know how much he held onto his great wealth as a source of strength, security, and significance until Jesus issued this surprising, yet loving invitation to surrender his wealth and follow Jesus. He did not have willingness to surrender his life to God through trusting His goodness. To him, his wealth was something he held onto as basic platform for his life. Yes, he knew that something was fundamentally missing in his life and he wanted to have eternal life – right relationship with God.  He regarded eternal life as something good that he just wanted to add to his “already-going well” life. He had no intention to replace the platform of his life by trusting God. He was not that much desperate for “eternal life.”

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

His great wealth served as a basic platform on which he could build “good life” in his own way. So, it was hard for him to see himself as a wretched sinner who desperately needs God’s salvation.  He did not realize that it was the power of his wealth that sheltered his life and made it possible for him not to have to break those commandments.  Giving away his wealth to the poor would expose his true self and provide him with precious opportunity of realizing who he truly was – a sinner who desperately needed God’s saving grace. Indeed, it was from Jesus’ love and care for this young man that Jesus asked him to give away all of his wealth to the poor and follow him.

Luke 18:23

  • Why did the rich ruler walk away sad?  What does this say about the gripping effects of “great wealth” even against truth? (See Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife”)

He knew that what Jesus said was true to the reality of his life. Otherwise, he would have dismissed what Jesus said and walked away with anger and contempt against Jesus. Though he knew that following what Jesus said was good for his soul, he just could not do that because he was so used to holding onto his great wealth as a platform of his life. His great self-image and his life of seemingly high morality revolved around this one thing, great wealth. He was too scared to let go of this and to face his true self in a completely different setting of life. Jesus gave us many warnings about the gripping effects of great wealth. It often overpowers our intellectual recognition upon truth through making us so addicted and dependent on it. Money has god-character since it could provide a lot of things for me. I can do a lot of things with a lot of money and I can protect my life from a lot of potential hazards and uncertainties in life by great wealth. This indeed gives seemingly tangible and solid security and significance to my life. This is why people want to depend on money and do whatever it takes to secure wealth, which ends up in worshipping and serving money.

  • What did the rich ruler forfeit?

He forfeited eternal life. If he had followed Jesus’ commands and given away his wealth and followed Jesus, he would have gotten to know himself as he was and experienced true freedom and salvation through surrendering his life to God. He forfeited this precious opportunity.

  • What did he keep? 

He kept his great wealth. He kept his old platform of his life. He kept his deluded self-image. He kept his utterly sheltered life. He kept his shallow understanding about “being good” and “his own sinfulness.”

Luke 18:28-30

  • The rewards of discipleship are both present and future.  How have I experienced this in my life?

As I tried to respond to God’s calling for his kingdom work, I ran into moments of small, yet significant decisions about how to go about living my daily life. As the work of God in my life has expanded, I have to let go my control over time, resources, and schedules in my life. I used to have a lot more free time than I have now. I have to prioritize loving and caring for others over my personal desires. I am much comforted by the fact that Jesus featured these as characteristics of his disciples’ lifestyle.  Looking back at my life, I can say that I have been experiencing the rewards that Jesus promised in this life. When I surrendered more and more of my desire for being indulged in my own little world with my own resources, I was able to be more available for others and more people were brought into God’s family and I have now many more brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I share my life and I enjoy laboring together for God’s kingdom work. It was way more than I expected or I deserved. Indeed, God is good and gracious to me as well as to everyone who responds to his calling. I actually see how Jesus’ command for the rich young ruler was the best thing he could possibly do for him. Only if he knew about what kind of amazing blessings he would experience when he trusts Jesus and let go of his “precious” in response to Jesus’ calling!

Submitted by Matthew K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 18:18-30

The text tells us the Rich Ruler walked away very sad.  I often wondered about the sadness.   Perhaps he was sad because he knew what he was giving up; perhaps he had tasted some of that heaven on earth but had to let it go.  He knew how good it could be, how wonderful the word of God could be, and how exciting and adventurous following God’s will could be.   But on the other hand, I see him as someone who is pouting, someone who is sad because he couldn’t have it ALL.  All his life, he got what he wanted. He was rich and powerful as a ruler.  He was even able to live an upright life.  But here is Jesus, who tells him that he cannot have the eternal life unless he lets go of his tight grip on his life.

I think the real sadness was experienced by Jesus.  Here is Jesus, offering his life, ready to die for him in order that this rich ruler may have eternal life.  He is willing to give his own life, and in exchange, Jesus asks him to give him his treasure.   Then, the rich ruler’s decision not to follow him was nothing more than a personal rejection of Jesus.  And I can’t imagine the hurt that Jesus must have felt.  The rich ruler basically told Jesus in his face that my riches and wealth are more important than His life.

I wonder how Jesus feels every time I choose after lesser things than the things of God, every time I choose to follow my basic appetite instead of fellowshipping with him, every time I give into my short sighted desires and let go true relationship with God.  Jesus must be grieved deeply. He must feel not only personal rejection and profound sense of loss for me.

What is also really sad is what the rich ruler ends up missing the real treasure as described in verses 29 and 30.  He chooses wealth, which demands more and more time for him to manage, often isolating himself from the loved ones around him.  We see this in life.  People relentlessly pursue wealth to the point of isolating their own family members.  In the process of amassing wealth, people end up losing friends and living an utterly lonely life.  And what remains is larger a bank account, but an empty house and no friends to share the “good” life with.

What is clear from the text is that God is not interested in robbing us blessings.  He does not intent to strip us of what is good in life. In fact, he wants to bless us.  He wants to make our lives full and he knows how to do that better than we can.  He simply wants us to trust him instead us trying to figure out life on our own.  It was his desire for the Rich Ruler as well. He wants so much to tell him to “trust me, I can give you eternal life, all that treasure you are holding onto, it’s nothing, I can give you a whole lot more, I can offer you life much better than what you can make for yourself.”

Perhaps, Jesus was even more sad because of all the things that the Rich Ruler would miss out.  He sees so much potential, so much blessing waiting to be unleashed upon him had he made a decision to follow him, and so much love to be shared with him.  But, the Rich Ruler chose the lesser things.  It is the greatest tragedy if we reject God in favor of something so puny as money, wealth, a few years of comfort and/or fame, and let go what is stored for us in heaven.

I am thankful that somehow by God’s grace I made a decision to let of my puny little dreams and decided to follow Christ. I would not have imagined my life being multiplied like this, full of people, meaning and purpose.  I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t expect it and I didn’t plan on it.  But what Bible says actually plays out in life.  The Bible is real and God is real and his promises do come true.  I gave so little in following Christ, but he has given me so much and multiplied my life beyond my imagination.    What is amazing is that these days I do experience Jesus’ sadness when people choose lesser things instead of following Christ.  Sometimes, I wish I can convince them that they are making the greatest mistake of their lives.

The story also reminds that I need to choose God on daily basis instead of choosing the lesser things that temporarily calm my fears or satisfy my immediate carnal desires.   I need to invest in heaven instead investing in my earthly kingdom.

Submitted by Karen L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 18:18 

  • The rich ruler seemed to have everything in life including “righteousness”, and yet he comes asking about eternal life.  What is the relationship between what I possess, the sense of lack I feel, and eternal life?
    To be a rich ruler, he must be someone of great wealth, power, respect, and success.  He must have everything that anyone could ever dream of.  And this story tells us that his list of “possession” includes even “righteousness” as he has kept all of God’s commandments since he was a boy.  However, even all the things that the rich ruler possessed couldn’t cover his sense of inadequacy for eternal life.  So he came to Jesus asking what else he must do to inherit eternal life.  This tells us that no matter how much we possess, it doesn’t secure eternal life, and we know this because we can feel the deep sense of lack in ourselves, the feeling that something is not quite right or enough.

Luke 18:19

  • What is Jesus trying to get the rich ruler to see through the question in v. 19?
    By asking the rich ruler “Why do you call me good?” and affirming that “No one is good – except God alone,” Jesus is trying to get the rich ruler to see his standard of what it means to be “good” is off.  Even though the rich young ruler has lived a good life and he had kept all the commandment since he was a boy, it still was NOT “good” by God’s definition.  He recognizes that Jesus is “good” and pays Jesus respect by calling him “good teacher,” but he must have also thought that he himself is “good” from the fact that he came to Jesus asking, what must “I” do to inherit eternal life?  He must have thought that it is within his power to earn eternal life.  Perhaps he might have even thought that he deserves eternal life from God because he had lived such an upright life.  Oftentimes, my sense of “good” comes from comparing myself to others.  I compare myself to those who are not as “good” as me, not as committed to God as me, not as serious in prioritizing God’s word as me, not as generous in giving as us, etc.  Just like the rich ruler, it is so easy for me to think I am “good” by simply looking at things that I do or the things that I do better than others.

Luke 18:20-22

  • How might wealth enable one to keep those commandments?
    Wealth can enable one to keep those commandments because it can shield us from some dark desires that come from experiencing lack and neediness.  For example, a rich person has no need to kill and steal because he already has everything provided for him.  A ruler has no need to give false testimony because he already has the power he wants and everyone around is already listening and submitting to him.  When I have money to spare, I can fool myself into thinking that I’m a generous person because I feel no tightness of heart when I’m asked to contribute money to some fund or to share to fill someone’s need.  When I have time, I can think of myself as a loving and big-hearted person, because I don’t mind having my schedule gets interrupted to help someone.
  • How would the giving away of his “great wealth” be the key to gaining the one thing that he lacks?
    As he gives away his “great wealth,” he would experience his spiritual poverty.  When he has no money, he would see his stinginess and lovelessness towards those around him.  When he has no position or power, he would see his ugly desire to want to overpower those around him to show others that he should be respected.

    Just like this rich ruler, I used to also think that I was a person of “great wealth”.  I grew up in a loving Christian home with all my needs provided for.  I worked hard and got good grades and I joined many extracurricular activities so that my college application would look good.  I never missed a Sunday and was very active in serving at church.  I was the envy of my friends and cousins because their parents would always point to me as the model daughter, the model student, and the model Christian.  I thought I was a loving, patient, and considerate person and I was nice to everyone around me.  I could echo the rich ruler’s response, “All these I have kept since I was a girl.”  However, when I started to really try to love others and as life got more complicated and demanding, my time, energy, and resources became more scarce, I saw how unloving and cold-hearted I was on the inside.  For me, loving others and doing things that are outside of my comfort zone are the ways that I give away my “great wealth” and in doing so I came to recognize my true brokenness and sinfulness before God.

Luke 18:23

  • Why did the rich ruler walk away sad?  What does this say about the gripping effects of “great wealth” even against truth? (See Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife”)
    The rich ruler walked away sad because he really wanted to follow Jesus and he recognized that what Jesus said was true but yet he couldn’t let go of this “great wealth.”  He couldn’t imagine living a life without his possession, his status and influence, his power, and all the comforts that money could buy.  These things defined who he was and he couldn’t part with it even against truth.  This is a warning to us who have “great wealth”
  • What did the rich ruler forfeit?
    The rich ruler forfeited the chance to follow Jesus and the abundant life God wanted him to experience.  He forfeited the chance to witness God’s power thru all the miracles Jesus would perform.  He forfeited the chance to really know Jesus through closely seeing Jesus’ interaction with the people around him.  He forfeited the chance to really know himself, his utter sinfulness and bankruptcy and so to know how loving and merciful God is who issued him, this sinner, the invitation to follow him.  He forfeited eternal life.
  • What did he keep?
    He kept his life just as it is, his wealth, his position as a ruler, also his burden knowing that he does not have eternal life.

Luke 18:28-30

·      The rewards of discipleship are both present and future.  How have I experienced this in my life?

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.”

I can testify that Jesus’ promise is true that I have received many times more than what I’ve given up, as I committed myself to follow him and serve His kingdom’s purpose.

The act of leaving is something that I realize I need to commit to do again and again at different junctures of my life. Otherwise, I would miss out on seeing the transforming and redemptive power of the gospel convicting people of sin and surrendering to Jesus.  I would miss out on seeing God’s higher vision for his people and His commitment and willingness to shape them and mature them.  I would miss out on experiencing my own capacity to love people growing as He opens my eyes to see the need in the people He has entrusted me with.  I would miss out on knowing God’s love for me, who doesn’t count my sin, my selfishness, my cowardice, my disobedience of Him against me, but He still chooses to use me to bring people closer to Him.   I would miss out on knowing the true power and strength as I depend on Him, His word, His people in my time of weakness, in the time I feel I don’t have enough to keep loving.  I have become so rich and blessed as I have left everything for the sake of the kingdom of God.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response