Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Comparison Noodle: The Rich Young Ruler and Zaccheus

I haven't posted thoughts from my daily Bible reading in a while, but here's what happened in my mind and heart today. God's Word is so rich and He is so good to reveal Himself to us! I hope this encourages, strengthens--and maybe even surprises you (like it did for me).

Luke 18:15-19:48
18:20-22 “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 thing I have kept from my youth.”
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.”

Impression:  Jesus addressed the commandments that are horizontal—the ones that speak to our relationships with one another—and the ruler had kept every one of them all his life. By asking him to sell and give to the poor, Jesus was not asking him to extend his love for others to a greater extent as if what he was doing wasn’t enough. Instead, Jesus was challenging his obedience to the first commandment—to love the LORD, His God, with all his heart, strength, soul and strength. That is what the young ruler was unwilling to do: love God more; love God most. The poor didn’t need his wealth, but he needed to love God. The truth is that he kept the commandments as a way of loving himself. He was trying to live in both worlds successfully—to do good and please God and have what he wanted. In the end, he could not please God and hold on to what he loved. There is no room for both. We cannot please God by doing good things, in fact, doing good to others is—without Christ—simply another way of loving ourselves, not God.

Application: Is there anything I’m unwilling to give up? If Jesus said, “Give up this one thing” would I do it? What is that one thing? Children? Husband? Home? Nick-nacks? A bank account or job or position or friend or family member? The challenge this morning is that one thing that keeps me from loving God most.

19:4-10 so [Zaccheus] ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see [Jesus], for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
And Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Impression: Compared to the young ruler, Zaccheus was eager, but timid. Humble. Unworthy. Jesus went to him instead of him going to Jesus. Jesus didn’t ask him to give up anything, but he wanted to give more than was required to make things right. What a different attitude and response! The people grumbled—why didn’t Jesus choose their house? Weren’t they good enough? Instead, Jesus chose Zaccheus.

Application: Jesus chose me. And I’m so glad. Now I have the opportunity to look for and find others who need and want Him. What they appear to be has nothing to do with their need or response. I could be wrong—but God knows and He will find them!

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