Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The to-do list

There may have been only one thing left to check off on the ruler's to-do list and he gave it his full attention.

So, when Jesus came through the area, the ruler asked a logical question of a religious teacher: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

We learn quickly that this man had wealth and, as a ruler, had authority.

In small towns today, the local newspaper will often interview graduating seniors. When asked about their goals, these 18-year-olds by a large majority responded, "to be rich and famous."

The ruler had arrived there. He had fame and wealth. Now he was in search of one more thing: a ticket to heaven.

He'd already started the process, in his own eyes. He kept the commandments. Was there anything else he needed to do?

Jesus turned the conversation on its ear with his answer: "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." (Luke 18:22)

Jesus knew the ruler had spent his life pursuing personal gain. Now this ruler wanted heaven - for personal gain.

This account from Luke is a strong statement about where we put our trust. Are we resting on our laurels, so to speak, gripping our own goals and hoping to add the veneer of heaven?

But there's more here. Jesus asked the ruler to become like him. Jesus asked him to shed that which kept him from God. Jesus laid out a new goal: to deny his own gain so that he could follow Jesus.

For this ruler, the idea of tossing aside his dreams to follow God's path was repulsive. He walked away from Jesus.

Tomorrow, we'll look at Psalm 10. There's more to be learned about personal gain there.

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