How Good Are You?
“A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”” vs. 18
Everybody Loves Heaven
One of my favorite shows of all time is “Everybody Loves Raymond.” My wife has said that she has never heard me laugh more or harder then when I am watching that show. Recently I caught the episode where Ally, Raymond’s daughter, has gone to Sunday School and draws a picture of heaven. When Frank, Raymond’s dad, sees the picture he comments to Ally that Ray will not be in heaven. This disturb Ally and she asks why. Frank tells her that it’s because Ray doesn’t go to church. Well Ray confronts Frank about this and they get into a big argument about it. Ray, later in the program, decides to go to church. He is really stumped when he sees what is happening. Frank stands in the back talking about some of the women in the church, what they are wearing, etc. Then the priest calls for the offering and Frank is one of the ushers and takes the offering and spends the rest of the morning back in another room with the other ushers counting money and taking about the football games. Ray is really upset because he realizes his dad isn’t really going to church, in fact, he’s never really in the service. In the end Raymond and Frank come to an understanding and the whole thing kind of blows over.
Here’s one of the things that I took from that episode. Frank’s criteria, his checklist, for getting to heaven, is church attendance. There is just one thing on that checklist; go to church. Let’s read a passage where Jesus and a rich guy discuss going to heaven from Luke 18.
Read Passage – Luke 18:18-30
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “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 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give 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 a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
Getting To Heaven
Given a chance, would you like to go to heaven? Notice the question this man asks Jesus:
“A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”” vs. 18
Interesting he calls him good. It makes you wonder if he was buttering Jesus up or if he was just trying to stroke him a bit. I tmay be that he just thought that this guy has it all together and instead of just calling him teacher he calls him good teacher be cause he has liked the things he has been saying.
This man bring us p something I think many people want o know about: how to get to heaven. A large majority of people in our world think that when they die, they will go to heaven. It’s kind of thought that if you are good enough and live the right way, you somehow get to heaven. There are some who don’t believe in heaven and hell.
Ex. My grandfather believed but said he couldn’t wait to get to hell and have a beer with the devil.
Some people don’t believe at all. They think this is all there is so live a good life now and enjoy it because it’s the only shot you have. For those who do believe, many create a checklist like, helping others, being kind, living well, etc. and that becomes their checklist of getting into heaven. But there is some confusion on how to get to heaven and so this man asks a question to clarify what it takes.
I Am A Good Person!
Jesus responds with a checklist the man was very familiar with, a shorter version of the 10 commandments. He tells him not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to lie, and to honor his parents. This guy was most likely vary familiar with the Jewish laws and the 10 commandments. That was his checklist. So he responds in verse 21:
““All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.” vs. 21
You might say “How could he claim that?” Well, he was a pretty good guy and when a good Israelite sinned they went to temple and sacrificed and that cleansed them so they could claim they had been forgiven so it wasn’t too far fetched for this guy to claim his innocence. Maybe he just lived a good life and felt he had really been true to keeping all those things. The bottom line, he thought he was good. That is basically what he was saying; “I am good!” He had completed his checklist and was probably looking for affirmation from Jesus that he was a good man and deserved to be going to heaven.
Let me ask you; Are you going to heaven? What is your checklist? Who else do you think will be there? Look around, will you see the people sitting around you? I have a feeling we are going to be surprised at some of the people who are there…and some of the people who are not.
Jesus Reminds Us That…
Jesus takes this opportunity to remind this man, and us, of some of the important things in life.
- Things Are Things
The first thing that Jesus reminds us of is that things are things. What I mean, is that the things we have, our possessions, our material things, are just that, things! We know we can’t take them with us and we know they are just things, but sometimes we place a really high importance on them. So Jesus challenges the man in verse 22:
“You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” vs. 22
This man thought that by amassing all these things, by filling his life with material possessions and building his on little empire that somehow he was good and maybe even better than everyone else. But as I said, things are things. We can’t take them with us, we can loose them in a heartbeat, and we know that ultimately they don’t really satisfy that deep needs with have. David put it in perspective for us in Psalm 49:20:
“A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” Psalm 49:20
Pay careful attention to this verse. Notice it says “without understanding.” Riches can be good for us but only if with have the right perspective, the right outlook of them. Otherwise, we are just like animals. Animals don’t understand the importance of things, they have no focus except to take for themselves.
Ex. Dogs. Our dog Mary used to beg from us for food. It would be fun to give her say a bowl that she would lick clean. You know what she would do? We would give it to her and she would take it in another room, away from us the ones who gave it to her, and eat it. Interesting thing about that dog, she never once offered to share her food with me!
Animals can’t have that understanding of things. They can’t have things and understand them. We can and David tells us if we don’t put our things in the right perspective we are no better than the animals.
- The Need For Proper Priorities
The second point that Jesus reminds us of is that we need to set priorities. In our story, when this man hears Jesus words, listen to what happens, verse 23:
“When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.” vs. 23
He goes away sad because he had set priorities and Jesus words did not match up with his priorities. Deeper into these word is the point that Jesus reminds us of the important things in life. Relationships should be more important than things so he not only tells him to sell his possessions but to follow him, i.e. develop his relationship with himself and God. But this response saddens the rich young man. It saddens him because his priority is his material things not relationships. I think it is implied here that this kind walked around flaunting his wealth at the expense of developing his relationship with others. We are warned about the danger of living that way in Ecclesiastes 5:10:
“Whoever loves money never has enough;whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” Ecc. 5:10
Be careful here, I am not saying having riches are bad. In fact, the things we have are a blessing from God. God blesses people with material things. It’s Biblical! Look at the people in the Bible that God blesses with riches; people like Abraham, David, Solomon, Job, Nicodemus, etc. Our possessions can be good but only if we keep them in the right priority.
Caution: Not every rich person has their priorities mixed up, but this guy did. Not every rich person will struggle keeping their wealth in the right perspective.
Ex. Howard Hughes – One of the richest men who ever lived. Became paranoid, hoarded, etc. and died a lonely, delusional man.
The question we are posed with is are we keeping our possessions in the right priority? What will it take to satisfy us?
- What Is Impossible for Us Is Possible For God
And the third thing Jesus reminds of is that what seems impossible for us, is possible with God. Notice Jesus picture that he gives this man in verse 25:
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” vs. 25
This is an exaggeration that he is using to make his point. Of course it is not reasonable to think that this huge animal, a camel, could go through the eye of a needle. (Hold up a needle)
If we truly had to fulfill a checklist or do enough good things to get us into heaven, we would never be able to. There isn’t enough good deeds, enough money, enough things to put us in good standing with God. That’s why Jesus follows this up with verse 27:
“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”” vs. 27
So when it came to providing a way for us to be good in God’s standing, he provided the way. He is the only one that could provide it for us be cause it id impossible for us to do that. But God provides the way. It’s not about what we can do but all about what He can do.
All Of You
And here is what God really wants…you! All of you! It only takes you accepting the gift.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
So you don’t have to keep trying so hard, just take the gift only God can gift, His Son.