Josh Samuel, one of our youth leaders, kicked of a new 4-week teaching series called “Good Gifts.” We spent the evening looking at a few passages in the New Testament in an effort to more biblically shape our understanding of wealth and material possessions. In particular Josh shared a few lessons from his study of Jesus’ interaction with a rich, young ruler as well as a wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus (zak-KEE-uhs).
Jesus and The Rich Ruler | Luke 18:18-30 (ESV)
Here we see a rich, young man approaching Jesus to ask what he must do to inherit eternal life. Here are two things we see in these verses. First of all, this young man, who apparently has a lot of money and influence among his peers in the culture, believes that he can earn eternal life. This is evident in the fact that he asks, “what must I do?” This is a guy who has spent his whole life doing his best to behave and keep all the commandments. He says so himself. But the Bible teaches us that salvation is a free gift offered by a loving God to undeserving sinners. There is nothing you and I can do to earn eternal life. It must be accepted. Additionally, it requires that we give up everything to pursue Jesus fully.
The second thing we see is that this young man simply wants to add eternal life to his list of possessions. He doesn’t want to worship God, because he worships wealth and material possessions. This is evident when Jesus tells him that he must go and sell everything he owns and give that money to the poor, then follow him. This is very difficult for the young man to hear, and he walks away from Jesus discouraged. He is discouraged because he believed eternal life to be one thing, and it turns out it is something completely different. Eternal life as part of salvation in Christ is not meant to be one of many things we treasure. It is meant to be our greatest treasure!
The rich young ruler worships stuff and thinks he can earn salvation.
Jesus and Zacchaeus | Luke 19:1-10 (ESV)
Here we see a greedy, selfish tax collector climbing a tree to try and catch a glimpse of a man named Jesus who everyone has been talking about. When Jesus passes Zacchaeus, he surprisingly turns to him and says he’s coming to visit him at his house. Something incredible must have happened during their visit, because the simple fact that Jesus would choose to set aside time for Zacchaeus and be interested in him personally leads Zacchaeus to completely change his perspective on money. He vows to give to the poor and return to those he has cheated more money than he originally stole!
The first thing we see in this story is that eternal life is a free gift from God through Jesus. Zacchaeus certainly didn’t deserve it, but God chose to enter his life and change his heart. The second thing we see is that a heart changed by God is willing to let go of the pursuit of money and material possessions in order to love and follow Jesus. He didn’t even ask Zacchaeus to give to the poor or return stolen money, but those things came out of Zacchaeus’ changed heart.
Zacchaeus receives Jesus’ free gift of salvation and changes his treatment of money.
- We see from Jesus’ interaction with the rich, young ruler that:
- he believes he can earn salvation just like anything else.
- he worships wealth and material possessions.
- We see from Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus the tax collector that:
- eternal life is an undeserved, free gift from God through Jesus.
- a heart transformed by God’s love is willing to give up stuff and live for him.
What about you? Do wrestle with the temptation to find fulfillment in being rich or having good appearances or enjoying everything good life has to offer? Do you mistakenly believe that you can be a good enough person to go to heaven? Well the Bible is clear about salvation and about money. The Bible is clear that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible is also clear that saving faith in Christ transforms the way we interact with money and material possessions. In fact, it transforms the way we perceive everything in life. We will explore more of these things in the weeks to come.
Join us this Friday evening from 7:00-9:00. Pastor Asa will be teaching about the topic of relationships.