Joshua 15:13-63; Luke 18:18-30; Psalms 86:8-17; Proverbs 20:16-18
NT: “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. 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! 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, who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.”” (Luke 18:18-30 CSB)
In Jesus’ time, rabbis (teachers) were called “Master,” but were never called “good.” “Good” was reserved for God alone. So it was quite unusual for the ruler to call Jesus “good teacher.” By calling Jesus good, he was in effect, equating Jesus with God. When Jesus asked the ruler why he called Him “good,” He wanted to know if the ruler truly equated Jesus with God, or if he was just giving Jesus lip service. It is interesting to note that Jesus left out one commandment: do not covet. The “one thing” that Jesus referred to was covetousness, and Jesus gave the ruler the opportunity to demonstrate that he did not covet his possessions. By being unwilling to release his riches, the ruler demonstrated instead that he had a divided heart, and as much as wanted to inherit eternal life, he wanted to keep his riches more. It is not wrong to have possessions. It is wrong to be possessed by them. Riches give people a false sense of success, security, and satisfaction, and thus obfuscate their need for God. However, as Jesus explained to His disciples, if we are able, by the grace of God, to lay aside and leave behind those things that vie for our allegiance, and wholeheartedly follow Jesus, we will receive blessings that far exceed what we have let go of – both in this life and the life to come.
Psalms: “Lord, there is no one like you among the gods, and there are no works like yours. All the nations you have made will come and bow down before you, Lord, and will honor your name. For you are great and perform wonders; you alone are God. Teach me your way, Lord, and I will live by your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear your name. I will praise you with all my heart, Lord my God, and will honor your name forever. For your faithful love for me is great, and you rescue my life from the depths of Sheol. God, arrogant people have attacked me; a gang of ruthless men intends to kill me. They do not let you guide them. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth. Turn to me and be gracious to me. Give your strength to your servant; save the son of your female servant. Show me a sign of your goodness; my enemies will see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped and comforted me.” (Psalms 86:8-17 CSB)
This is how we battle against the things of this earth that vie for our allegiance: we ascribe to God the glory that is due Him and we magnify the Lord in our understanding through praise – and we bow down before Him in submitted and surrendered worship. Listen to David’s prayer: “Teach me Your way, Lord, and I will live by Your truth” (emphasis on “Your” and not “my”). Then David asks for an undivided mind (a united heart in other translations). Unite my heart to fear Your name… help my thoughts, emotions, desires, passions, understanding… everything that I am… everything that drives me, to be united in complete reverence and obedience to You. Then, with an undivided life, my entire existence will give honor and glory to You as You bless my life with all of Your blessings. Lord God, help me and help Your church to not be divided – but to be completely united in honor and worship to You. Then the world will see something wonderful and compelling.