Boast In The Lord January 24th, 2023

Luke 18:18-27 and 19:1-10

18 A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept since my youth.” 22 Now when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy. 24 And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy 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!” 26 Those who heard Him said, “And so who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

 1 Now after this the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go; behold, I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no money belt, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one along the way. 5 And whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 And if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they provide; for the laborer is deserving of his wages. Do not move from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is served to you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say,

The Holy Spirit keeps bringing me back to these two parallel passages that I encountered again in my devotional time with Dr. John Soper. 
I love the comparison that Luke presents for us between the Rich Young Ruler and Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector. I believe the Holy Spirit meant for us to look at these two men and see two very different choices about how to respond to the call of God. 
The Rich Young Ruler was wealthy and, in his mind, had done everything right. For his entire life, he kept all the rules and commandments. He might have even connected his wealth and influence with his own efforts. There is almost an unspoken sense of pride in what he had and a disdain for others who were not as blessed and therefore, not as “good” as him. 
He was clearly drawn to Christ and asked a good question, but when Jesus asked him to sacrifice, he walked away sad. He was seemingly unwilling to give up what he had really put his faith into; his own worth (pun intended). 
We also can all too easily fall into this trap. When I reflect on my own life, I have to repent, sometimes daily, for slipping into the belief that I have earned any of what I am blessed with or that I am somehow better than those around me because I sometimes obey some stricter rules than they do. I am reminded that salvation and a changed heart through my own efforts are impossible.  
Compare then the story of Zacchaeus, (not accidently it appears just a few verses later). Luke tells us he was the chief tax collector. Historical context reveals that a person in Zacchaeus' position was not only hated for their collaboration with Rome but also notoriously corrupt and abusive to those in their charge. 
Zacchaeus was also drawn to Jesus, however, look how he responds when confronted by Christ. He doesn't brag about his wealth, power, or alleged good works. He knows he is a sinner. His only hope is in God himself. He shows that God has changed his heart and he demonstrates his repentance by repaying many times over what he had stolen. His good works are the overflow of a changed heart, not the way he earned his salvation. 
I think this is the posture we should adopt. Jesus came to seek out our hearts and to change them because without Him, we too are lost. What an amazing Savior and one that I want to cling to, always. With God, all things are possible and our boast should always be in Him!

Father, Thank you for loving me in spite of myself. I am forever grateful that you sent your Son to die for my sins. I am indebted to your Spirit which pursues me and breaks down my stubborn heart daily. Please forgive me for ever thinking that what I have or my salvation have anything to do with anything I have done. I ask that you help me remain humble and that my heart remains tender to those around me. God, please continue to pour into my life and show me ways I can demonstrate the love of Jesus to those around me. May my boast always be in Jesus' name, Amen.

Keith Campbell

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