When I read through Luke 18:18-30, the words to a worship song that I heard at a youth conference I attend every summer came to my mind. Part of the song gives these powerful proclamations, saying:
In all my sorrows, Jesus is better-make my heart believe
In all my victories, Jesus is better-make my heart believe
Than any comfort, Jesus is better-make my heart believe
More than all riches, Jesus is better-make my heart believe
Our souls declaring, Jesus is better-make my heart believe
Our song eternal, Jesus is better-make my heart believe
I put the lyrics in bold that I think relate best to this week’s study, which will focus on the story of the rich young ruler from Luke 18.
Two years ago, at this same conference, one of the preachers continually hammered into the youth there the statement that “Jesus is better.” He was so passionate about it that he broke down into tears.
I can still picture him passionately pleading with us to believe him and accept this truth, that Jesus is more soul-satisfying than anything else we could ever hope to find in this world.
In Luke 18:18-30, a rich young ruler approaches Jesus seeking to know how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus first lists off all the commandments as the way to eternal life, since if they are followed perfectly, you would be sinless and allowed into heaven. Jesus knew that this man was sinful like every other human and had not followed the ten commandments perfectly, since it’s impossible. This was Jesus’ way of showing that the rich young ruler needed Him. However, the man arrogantly claims that he had followed them all.
Jesus then reveals that the man had not obeyed all the commandments by telling him to give away all his possessions. The rich young ruler’s refusal to obey this command shows His idolatry of money, proving He had not actually followed the ten commandments but was instead worshiping money.
This is a genius way to reveal sin on Jesus’ part.
Jesus goes on to explain that it is impossible for someone who is rich to become a Christian apart from God’s help (Verse 27). After this, He explains that those who leave everything for Jesus will receive many more blessings, both now and in heaven. These are not material blessings, but spiritual blessings.
So what can we apply to our lives from all of these truths?
After reading all this, you might be wondering, “Is it wrong to be rich?”
The answer to that question is no.
Look at Abraham and Job. They were both extremely wealthy, yet Abraham had great faith and Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1)
However, we must be cautious with wealth.
We can’t make it more important than God or make it our life pursuit.
Instead, we must be generous with what we have, and thankful to God for it.
Job grasped this concept of openhandedness with His wealth when he said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He said this after all his worldly possessions were stripped from him, and his response ultimately proved his love for God, which God eventually rewarded with more wealth.
In the same way, Abraham was willing to leave his hometown after being established there for 75 years and becoming very wealthy, as an act of faith to God.
As Christians, we need to realize that Jesus is better!
We need to live our lives solely for Him.
If that results in wealth for you, praise God! Be thankful, be generous, and use that wealth for the glory of God. After all, everything is God’s and so is your wealth.
We must be openhanded and willing to give up our earthly possessions for Christ whenever He calls us to. When you are living focused on Christ, this is not a hard thing to do.
I went on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic that taught me this. (I took the picture at the top there) When we went, we were without many common comforts. We were living out of suitcases, sleeping on nasty beds with no air conditioning, taking cold showers, had no cell phone service or WiFi, and no cars except for those we rode in as a group. The people we were ministering to often had even less then we temporarily had that week.
But you know what? That week spent with minimal comforts in a third-world country was by far the most blessing-filled week of my life. God just poured out spiritual blessings that week, and I would have gladly continued on without material comforts for the rest of my life just to keep serving and worshiping God without distraction like that. There is truly no greater joy than to worship God above anything else!
We don’t need any of the comforts we have, and they are not what makes a happy life. Focusing on Jesus and worshiping Him is so much sweeter.
Please realize this, and begin to be open-handed with what you have.
Be willing to give it all up for Christ if He calls you to, and if not, be generous and sacrificial to those around you.
Living this way minimizes distractions and strengthens your walk with God.
Get rid of the idol of wealth in your life today. Give generously to those in need and to the spreading of the gospel. Start viewing your possessions as God’s and be willing to give it all up.
Jesus truly is better.
Reflect on these questions and, if you feel led, you can comment your answers:
- Have you made wealth an idol?
- How can you be generous and thankful today?
- What is God calling you to give up to know Him more?