Treasuring Christ Above All Else
November 29, 2020
Luke 18:18–30  And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must 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 I have kept from my youth.”  When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.  Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth 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 person to enter the kingdom of God.”  Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”  But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”  And Peter said, “See, we have left our 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 more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (ESV)
A Rich Young Man With A Deep Concern
- We hear an interesting story of a man who approaches Jesus and seems to have all that anyone could want. He’s a rich, young ruler. He’s got whatever he needs, whatever he wants – almost anything, yet he lacks peace about his eternal destiny.
V.18 “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
- Notice how Jesus responds with a clarifying question –
V.19 “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
A Powerful Claim
- Right away, Jesus affirms truth to this man while challenging him at the same time. He affirms that God alone is good. Jesus is also making a claim on the man.
- If you call me good, and God alone is good, then listen to my words.
- If you call me good, and God alone is good, then respond to me as God.
- Then Jesus makes His appeal to this man by using the law (verse 20)
V.20 – “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.”
- In this appeal to the law, Jesus is seeking to awaken in this man a sense of his own sinfulness and need, awaken a sense of spiritual poverty, and sense of his helplessness.
- Jesus is not suggesting that this man can enter the kingdom of God by his performance of the law. He is not suggesting a salvation of works. Rather, he’s seeking to draw this man to the overarching intention of the law – which was to show us that none of us could keep the law to God’s perfect standard and that we therefore need a Savior.
Blind to His Own Spiritual Poverty and Idolatry of Wealth
- However, this isn’t how this man responds. Instead, he responds by demonstrating his utter blindness to his own spiritual need (verse 21)
- Apparently this man wasn’t aware that even the thoughts and intentions of the heart can be sinful. This man’s focus on outward performance, earning his way into God’s good graces is evident. He may in fact have been an upstanding citizen, but his heart was in fact far from God. Jesus isn’t concerned with mere outward conformity to the law but rather the internal motivation of a heart that loves God with all in heart, mind, soul and strength
- Jesus saw this man, and loved him.
- “One thing you still lack,” Jesus said with great care. “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me (Luke 18:22)”
- The man’s response was indicative of what ruled his heart. And it wasn’t God!
- Jesus wasn’t his treasure. The kingdom of God wasn’t his treasure. His wealth, his status, his mansions, his servants, his resources were his treasure.
- Jesus is not setting forth a law for the whole world – that if anyone wants to get into the kingdom of heaven they’ve got to sell all their possessions. Rather, in this case, Jesus is putting His finger on this man’s main issue – the love of worldly wealth.
- The rich young ruler’s response is tragic!
“But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich (verse 23).”
- Standing before him is the pearl of greatest price.
- Jesus is offering this man the true riches of eternal fellowship with God and he forfeits that for what??
- Temporary idols! Vapor! Shadow! Dust! Nothing!
- The power of wealth is so blinding that this man chose poverty over true spiritual wealth.
- He chooses temporary idols over the eternal riches of God.
- This is why earthly prosperity is so dangerous – it can blind us to what is real, and to what is counterfeit. We want to think that we can keep all of the idols of our hearts and have the kingdom too. But the kingdom of God doesn’t work that way. There is only one throne in each heart. God himself must occupy that place.
- Jesus was saying to him in effect ‘You want to enter the kingdom of God? Great! Make Me your treasure! This is my kingdom, and I am the King. And no one enters the kingdom without loving the King.’
A Sobering Word
- This is a sobering word, and we must pay attention to our own hearts. Any one of us can be drawn after the idol of wealth and riches in this world and forsake the true riches of fellowship with God, and so evidence that we were never truly living under the rule and reign of Jesus.
- Verses 24-25 remind us that the idolatry of money and wealth can make it exceedingly difficulty for someone to enter God’s kingdom. However, “What is impossible with men is possible with God (verse 27).”
- Could we lose all earthly possessions and still call Christ our glorious king? Jesus said “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God (verse 24)!”
- God loves to make dead people alive. God loves to grant us eyes to see and hearts to believe Him. God loves to break the power of sin and idolatry. In His great love for us, He loves to remove that which is false, temporary, fleeting and replace it with Himself – He who is perfect, satisfying, eternal. Turn to Him this morning.
- Verses 27-29 remind us to live wholeheartedly for Christ knowing that our reward in heaven is great.
1. We need to examine our approach to the Kingdom of God
- Do we come, acknowledging our empty hands?
- Do we recognize our own poverty of spirit, that apart from Christ we can do nothing of spiritual value
- Is our only hope in life and in death that we belong to Jesus Christ and we rejoice that His righteousness is credited to us?
- Can we sing the song with the author of the Rock of Ages?
Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Naked, come to Thee for dress
Helpless, look to Thee for grace
Vile, I to the fountain fly
Wash me, Savior, or I die
Rock of Ages, Augustus Toplady
2. We need to examine our own hearts – is Jesus my treasure?
3. We need check ourselves regarding the love of money
4. We need to obey the Lord and go where He calls let us go
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, Luke 18:18-30. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- What did the rich young ruler fail to see about his own heart that he needed to see?
- This man failed to see his own sinfulness and need for a Savior. When did you first come to the awareness of your own need for a Savior? Give the two minute version of your testimony of coming to Christ.
- How can we help others, who think they are “good enough” to get to heaven through their own merit, goodness and works, to see that they are not “good enough”?
- How can an idolatry of money keep people from entering the kingdom of God?
- How can an idolatry of money hinder those who are already part of God’s kingdom in living wholeheartedly for Christ?
- In what ways can American Christians be tempted to make an idol of money and possessions? How can you personally be tempted to make an idol of these things?
- How can you grow in proactively seeking to treasure Christ above all else?
- Take time to pray, asking God to help us to make Him increasingly our treasure above all else.