THE RICH YOUNG RULER
Reading: Luke 18:18-30
1 Corinthians 6:20 "Ye are bought with a price."
(a) It is often on Self Denial Sunday each year that we look in a new way at our commitment, and perhaps give fresh consideration to how much we are giving to God, not only money-wise, but also of our time, and our talent, as set forth in the Scriptures!
(b) Unfortunately, when it comes down to examining how much we give to God, many Christians are guilty of the attitude of a shopkeeper I once met whilst collecting S.D.
(c) He refused to give, and told me he hadn't budgeted to give us anything, and that I wasn't around when his bills came in!
What an awful attitude we may think, but how often, I have come across Christians, who, although not putting it into those words, still accept that principle on their own giving!!
There were two men shipwrecked on an island. One started screaming and yelling, "we're going to die! We're going to die! There's no food, no water! We're going to die! "The second man was propped up against a palm tree, so calm it drove the first man crazy. "Don't you understand? We're going to die! "The second man replied, "You don't understand. I make $100,000 a week. "The first man looked at him quite dumbfounded and asked, "what difference does that make? We're on an island with no food and no water . We're going to DIE!!! "The second answered, "You just don't get it. I make $100,000 a week and I tithe on that $100,000 a week. My pastor will find me!"
(a) Is it SACRIFICIAL!! That means it is a first priority instead of a last. WE DON'T GIVE GOD OUR LEFTOVERS!! either in our time our money, or our talent!! Rather He comes FIRST, instead of last! Woman during SD one year - "I've already given my cast-off clothing!"
(b) Giving Sacrificially, means giving until it hurts.
[*] But how many of us here have sacrificed for someone we love?? A husband, wife, son daughter?
Has it hurt? Of course it has!! But we were HAPPY to do it because it was a sacrifice of love!!
If we accept that same principle in our loving commitment to the Lord, then it means when we receive more income, (a pay or pension rise) we give more to God. It means when we have more time available to us - God gets more!! It means when we nurture and improve a talent, then He Who has given us that talent, must have a first share in it's usage!
(c) Every one of us, including officers like myself, must continually examine that dedication to make sure it comes up to the requirement that God sets.
(d) I trust that today, we continue to have open minds in this respect, and have a willingness to respond to the prompting of God's Holy Spirit, for TIME, TALENT & TREASURE!
(e) I know during these past days, many of you have been showing SELF-DENIAL by denying yourselves home comforts and going out on the knocker, come rain, hail or storm, with the Self Denial envelopes, to try and bring in as much as possible towards the target.
(f) But the commitment which God requires of every Christian is one for every hour of every day.
(g) When we ask the Lord Jesus into our hearts, we are asking Him to come in and TAKE CONTROL! WE GIVE OURSELVES TO CHRIST!!
(h) Would you or I give someone a gift and then change our minds, and go and grab it back again?? YET MANY PEOPLE DO THAT WITH THEIR COMMITMENT TO CHRIST!! It just doesn't make sense!
(i) IF WE HAVE GIVEN OURSELVES TO CHRIST, THERE IS NOTHING IN OUR LIVES WHICH HE DOESN'T OWN. SO WHEN WE SPEAK ABOUT GIVING TO GOD, WE ARE ONLY GIVING BACK TO HIM, SOME OF WHAT HE HAS ENTRUSTED TO US - THE BIBLE SAYS WE ARE BUT STEWARDS OF WHAT WE POSSESS!
IT IS BUT ENTRUSTED TO US TO USE!
`GOODNESS' OF THE RICH YOUNG RULER
(a) In our Bible narrative, the first thing our attention is drawn to is that this young man is a very `good living' young chap!
(b) Jesus is making very clear in this story, that there is definitely NO WAY TO HEAVEN THROUGH GOOD WORKS!
(c) This was a very presentable young man, and at least in his living, was very attractive! You and I would have felt drawn to him as Jesus did. In Mark's account, He says, "Jesus looking at him loved him." But even that could not give him Salvation!
(d) Because no matter how good the life he appeared to be living, IT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
(e) I have met even Christians who are under the delusion, that if people live a good life and try to live righteously then they are bound to get to heaven somehow.
(f) In this Biblical account, Jesus is saying "DEFINITELY NOT!!"
He is saying what Paul was to say a few years later to the Ephesians, that Salvation is "not of works lest any man should boast."
(g) There was nothing wrong with the good works, quite the contrary! But Jesus was showing him that there was something missing, and without it, his works were like an empty shell!
THAT SOMETHING WAS HIS COMMITMENT TO GOD!!
HE WAS UNWILLING TO PUT GOD AND THE NEEDS OF THE KINGDOM BEFORE HIS OWN PERSONAL NEEDS, COMFORTS AND POSSESSIONS.
(a) The Rich Young Ruler learned a very important thing that day; if we are to have the Lord in our lives, then ALL must come within His control! WE AND EVERYTHING WE ARE - AND EVERYTHING WE HAVE, MUST BE THE LORD'S - AND AVAILABLE TO HIM!!
(b) His commitment, although sizable, did not include ALL his possessions.
(c) Even the poorest Christian has some possessions which must be considered! We all have something or perhaps someone, which could come before God in our lives - something that could be more important than Him and His claims upon us!!
(d) Jesus was saying, that if that is the case, then the commitment is incomplete, and therefore we are not truly and completely His followers - His disciples!
I WONDER - ARE WE WILLING TO YIELD EVERYTHING WE POSSESS TO HIM??
(e) You will remember the poor widows two mites!
In the eyes of the world it was next to nothing!
IN THE EYES OF GOD, IT WAS A FORTUNE - BECAUSE IT WAS ALL SHE HAD! God's arithmetic works differently from that of the world!
A woman gave me back the envelope a few years ago, and said, "Iím afraid itís the widowís two mites."
I seem to remember saying, "I hope not - she gave all she had!"
He doesn't look so much at what we give, but more at what we don't give - what we have left after giving! THE LESS WE HAVE LEFT, THEN IN HIS EYES THE GREATER THE GIFT WE HAVE GIVEN, although in others eyes it may appear a pittance.
(f) His unwillingness to make a full commitment, brought the Rich Young Ruler much sorrow. He went away, and we do not read that he ever returned to the Saviour. What a tragedy.
(g) I remember a local officer in one of our past corps, telling me of the great regret for most of her life. "I should have been an officer" she said, but she had been unwilling at the time to make the necessary commitment, and the opportunity passed, never to return! Other circumstances took over, making it impossible.
(h) When the essence of being a true follower of Christ sank into the mind of this young ruler, that is, giving ourselves, along with everything we possess and everything we are - he was unwilling to make the necessary sacrifice!!
(i) Time and time again, I have come across those wanting to be Christians - without making the necessary sacrifice!
They were those who wanted to follow Christ on THEIR TERMS!
It cannot work! The Rich Young Ruler could only become a follower of Christ if he would make the necessary commitment - BUT SADLY HE WAS NOT WILLING!
(a) God's Word says in 1 Corinthians 6:20, "YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE"
(b) That price was paid in full on Calvary's Cross!
(c) Because we are bought with that price, then automatically, everything we have belongs to the One Who paid the price!!
(d) So it isn't really a question of how much we are giving, but how much we are taking back! AFTER ALL, HE ALREADY OWNS IT ALL!!!
(e) Yes, of necessity, the commitment must include our money and other possessions!
But it must also take in everything else, such as our TIME, our TALENT, OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS! BUT ALL OF THIS WILL FIT INTO PLACE, IF WE HAVE RELINQUISHED CONTROL OF OUR WILL TO HIM!
(f) This must have been especially difficult for this young man - because he WAS A RULER!
He was used to giving orders and having things done in HIS way!
TAKING INSTRUCTIONS from Jesus and thus RELINQUISHING HIS OWN WILL, MUST HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFICULT!
(a) The Rich Young Ruler made the totally wrong decision.
(b) Let us learn from his mistake!
(c) God gives us opportunities, and if we don't grab them, we may never again have the chance.
[*] Some years ago, my wife went down a coal mine in Fife, and found she had to travel from one part to another by sitting on a fast moving conveyor belt! Now if you weren't ready to decide to jump off at the appropriate time, you ended up going somewhere you didn't want to go!
(d) When God asks us to make decisions, we may possibly have come to a crossroads in our lives, and to neglect the decision, means that whether we like it or not, we are starting along the wrong road, and it becomes more and more difficult in the future.
(e) If you feel God is wanting YOU at this moment to make a specific commitment, then, believe me, it will never be easier than it is tonight!!
(f) In a moment, we are going to be coming forward with our monetary gifts, to present them to God in the Alter Service.
(g) Perhaps you feel that you should be giving something further - that there is a deeper commitment of your life that you should be making.
EVEN AS WE LAY OUR GIFTS ON THE ALTER, YOU COME AND LAY YOUR LIFE THERE, KNEEL AT THE MERCY SEAT AND MAKE A FULL COMMITMENT!!
365†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† NEW TUNE
PRAYER CHORUS 180
405 ††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 611
474 (ALTER SERVICE)†††††††††††††††††† 377