2 Samuel 19-20 Luke 18:1-23
“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one more thing you need to do. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.’ But when the man heard this, he became very sad, because he was very rich.” (Luke 18:22-23 NCV)
Checklists can be a dangerous guide, as the rich young ruler found out. He’d completed his checklist at an early age. He was a leader of his people and he was wealthy. There are some who think that he went to Jesus for validation. They think he expected Jesus to say something like, “Dude! You’ve done it! No one else has ever done it, but you have.” I tend to think that even though he’d completed his checklist, he felt something missing in his life. When Jesus looked at him, He realized what was wrong: this guy thought that all those riches he’d accumulated were signs of God’s blessings so that he could indulge himself in the good things of life. Jesus understood that about this leader and pinpointed his life-controlling sin: he cared more for riches than for people. So Jesus gave him a solution. That sin of greed controlled him, so he went away sadly.
Some sins are incidental. We commit them as we walk through life. We realize that they’re wrong. We struggle with them. We confess them and go on with life. I get angry at the driver in traffic and yell. Then I realize I shouldn’t do that. I confess that sin to God and then live. Were I to see the other driver later, and that’s happened a few times, I don’t even mention it to them. Life-controlling sins are different. People can point us to chapter and verse in the Bible showing that God considers that action or thought a sin, and we reject that counsel because we know that what we’re doing feels right to us. When Jesus offered this ruler, who by most accounts was a nice person, a way out of his life-controlling sin, he had to make a choice. His choice was to keep depending on riches or give up everything, show compassion to the poor, and follow Jesus. He chose poorly. God works in each of us to deal with those sins that control our lives and dictate our decisions. Whether it be an issue of a lifestyle activity or a mindset opposed to God, He confronts us with our sin and we have the choice of giving up that sin that controls and defines us, or we can reject God and His ways. What controls you? What defines who you are and how you will live? If the answer is anything other than God, you have the opportunity to repent of that life-controlling sin and turn to God. If you haven’t done so yet, will you give up all trappings of that life-controlling sin, or will you reject God’s call on your life and keep on living like you have been?
Oh Lord, a checklist of do’s and don’ts seems so much easier, but You want my heart. Help me get rid of any sins that might control me and keep me separated from You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.