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God’s Word for You

Luke 18:21-23 still one thing

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, December 13, 2018

21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my boyhood.”  22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing you lack. Sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  23 When he heard this he became very sad, because he was an extremely rich man.

The rich young man thought that he had lived a sinless life. He had the attitude of a Pharisee, and he probably was one. He answered Jesus, “I have kept all these since my boyhood.” Had he, really? On the outside, perhaps. He probably seemed like a pretty upstanding citizen, the kind of young man we cheer about in churches: There’s a guy who will draw more young people in! There’s a future leader in our church! But Jesus was thinking of the young man’s soul, not his resume. When it came to his reputation before God, all Jesus could say was, “There is still one thing you lack.”

By this, Jesus did not mean that the young man had almost everything figured out. It wasn’t as if he had taken nine steps in a ten-step program. The truth was that he hadn’t taken a single step in a one-step program. The question to be answered was, did he have faith? Did he trust God?

God wants us to trust in him, and he promises to watch over us. He says, “His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him” (Isaiah 33:16). And again, the Lord says, “I supplied all their needs” (Jeremiah 5:7). And again, “The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills” (Psalm 147:6,8). And permit one more, which we hear often and with good reason: “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back. Lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left” (Isaiah 54:2-3). The way to show your trust in God is to trust him; let him know what your needs are, and then watch him supply those needs. This is faith, to read the word of God “and to take to heart what is written in it” (Revelation 1:3).

Jesus is not telling everyone that they need to sell off all their worldly goods. What this young man had done was put his trust in the things he had rather than in his Savior. Jesus wanted him to realize his sin—which was idolatry—and then turn to God in repentance. Selling his belongings would be the sign of his contrite heart. The treasure he had asked Jesus about what inheriting eternal life. What he needed to learn was not to trust in the riches of this life, and to trust in God above all else.

God gives us wealth to help supply our needs and to enable us to look after one another. More about that next as Jesus describes the difficulty of getting a camel through the eye of a needle.

Lord God, supply in me the faith you desire. Forgive my sins, and make me a useful part of your holy Christian Church. Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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