What Must I Do?

Luke 18:18-30 is a powerful passage of scripture that contains important teachings about salvation, wealth, sacrifice, and rewards. In this passage, Jesus encounters a rich ruler who is seeking eternal life and provides some profound insights about what it means to follow him. As we reflect on these teachings, we can gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and how we can live our lives in a way that honors him.
Luke 18:18-30
A ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.” “I have kept all these from my youth,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” After he heard this, he became extremely sad, because he was very rich.

Seeing that he became sad, Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Then who can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Then Peter said, “Look, we have left what we had and followed you.” So he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left a house, wife or brothers or sisters, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.”
Salvation is a gift of God, not something we can earn.
Jesus' response to the rich ruler's question about eternal life is significant. Jesus did not say that the way to eternal life was by keeping the commandments, but rather he was highlighting the fact that the commandments serve as a mirror to reflect our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. Paul explains this in Romans 3:20 when he says, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." Keeping the law does not make us righteous, but rather it shows us our unrighteousness and our need for a Savior.

Salvation is a gift of God's grace that we receive by faith in Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." We cannot earn our salvation by doing good works, but rather it is a gift that we receive by faith in Jesus Christ.

Wealth can be a barrier to following Jesus.
The rich ruler was attached to his wealth and was not willing to give it up to follow Jesus. Wealth can become an idol that takes the place of God in our lives. We may begin to trust in our wealth more than we trust in God, or we may feel like we don't need God because we have all we need in our wealth.

However, Jesus warns us that we cannot serve two masters. Matthew 6:24 says, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." We must be willing to let go of anything that takes the place of God in our lives if we want to follow Jesus.

Following Jesus requires sacrifice.
Jesus made it clear that following him would require sacrifice. In the case of the rich ruler, the sacrifice required was to give up his wealth. But for others, the sacrifice may be something different. It could be giving up a career, a relationship, or a particular sin.

Whatever it is, following Jesus requires us to put him first and be willing to let go of anything that hinders our relationship with him. In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Following Jesus requires us to put him first in our lives and be willing to make sacrifices for him.

God rewards those who follow him.
Finally, Jesus told his disciples that anyone who gives up everything for his sake will be rewarded in this life and in the life to come. This is a great encouragement to us as we consider what it means to follow Jesus.

It may be difficult to give up something we love, but we can trust that God will reward us for our obedience. In Matthew 19:29, Jesus says, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." God sees our sacrifices and obedience, and he will reward us for our faithfulness to him.

In closing, the teachings in Luke 18:18-30 are critical for Christians who seek to live a life of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. Through this passage, we learn that our salvation is a gift of God's grace, and that we cannot earn it through our good works or religious observances. We also learn that wealth can become a barrier to following Jesus, and that being a disciple requires us to make sacrifices. However, we can trust that God sees our obedience and will reward us for our faithfulness.

As we seek to apply these teachings in our lives, we must guard against the temptation to idolize money and possessions. We can do this by holding our possessions with an open hand and being willing to use them for God's purposes. Additionally, we must be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of following Jesus and trust that he will reward us for our obedience.

In our Christian journey, we can also encourage one another to remain faithful to Jesus, even when it requires us to make difficult sacrifices. We can do this by being vulnerable with one another, offering support, and holding each other accountable.

Ultimately, our goal should be to live a life that honors Jesus Christ and reflects his love and grace to the world. Through faith in him, we can receive the gift of eternal life and enjoy the reward of our faithfulness in this life and in the life to come.
Discussion points:
  1. What are some practical ways that we can guard against the temptation to idolize money and possessions?
  2. In what ways have you personally experienced the sacrifice required to follow Jesus? How has this impacted your faith journey?
  3. How can we encourage one another to remain faithful to Jesus, even when it requires us to make difficult sacrifices?
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