Week 4 | Friday
Week 4: What Does Faith Look Like?
The Rich Fool: Love God
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 18:18-30
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.’”
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.”
- If you know your Ten Commandments well, you will notice that when Jesus invites the ruler to reflect on his obedience, he omits the first four commandments, all dealing with love and worship of God, as well as not coveting. What do you suppose Jesus is trying to do?
- A cultural understanding of the time was that riches indicated God’s blessing. How might that belief mask the ruler’s heart? How does Jesus’ “one more thing” expose the ruler’s heart?
- The disciples (through Peter) seem a bit worried at Jesus’ pronouncement as well. Are we all required to give up everything we have? What is at the heart of faith in God?
- As you think about your own heart, what would be hard for you to let go of in order to follow Jesus whole-heartedly?
- What cultural “masks” do you hide behind (or judge others by), that might make you look like you would earn eternal life, but can be deceptive?
- Ask Jesus to shed light on your heart and help you to see it the way he sees it. That might include asking him to use people or circumstances this week to help speak into or reveal the things you trust in.
- What stories in your own life has God used to reveal a love that seems to compete with God?
Janet, I had never thought about the fact that Jesus didn’t mention the first 4 commandments—-but then, His words about selling all you have to follow Him sums up the first 4! Riches are often an idol that keep us from living lives that put God in first place. The pursuit of riches often is the reason we don’t keep a sabbath. If God is truly in first place in our lives, our wealth becomes a tool in His hands. I remember times in my life, when I struggled with giving. God always provided when I put Him first. Malachi’s prophecy about the tithe is the only place where God calls upon us to test Him.
This story has always bothered me, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it’s because what Jesus is asking seems unreasonable. Surely Jesus can’t mean sell *everything*! I’m pretty sure if I was the ruler I would walk away sad too. What does this reveal about my own heart? I think it shows that I am okay with following Jesus as long as it stays within a certain “safe zone” that I determine. Am I willing to follow Jesus if he calls me to cross those boundaries? I need to keep reflecting on this.
I've been in a conversation within one of my Facebook groups (not an argument --an honest struggling to figure out exactly what Jesus calls us to give up, to leave behind), and it has actually helped me to be at peace with this story. For now anyway.
Like Tom, I often struggle because it seems like Jesus is just asking this rich man to truly follow him; as he says somewhere else, the Son of Man didn't even have a place to lay his head. And since I've never experienced homelessness, never had to sleep in a car or on the streets, I sometimes wonder if I'm following Jesus well when I have so much more than he had as a human.
But Kaitlyn said in a sermon recently, God knows what blocks us from being truly close to him, and while for this man it was his wealth, for me it may be something different.
The only way to really follow him is to check in with the Holy Spirit day by day, to be sure that I'm truly putting him in first place. To be honest, sometimes this is hard.
I just watched the Youversion "Verse of the day" story, and it went so well with the devotional and discussion here that I thought some of you might also enjoy it.