Day 25

Entering the Kingdom

from the Luke reading plan

Luke 18:1-43, Genesis 18:13-15, Jeremiah 32:17

BY Guest Writer

In my high school youth group, we used to play a game I loved. The game was Bigger or Better, and the object was simple: keep trading up for the biggest or best prize. To start, we were divided into teams and each team was given a single paper clip. We were then unleashed on a neighborhood with a simple assignment: “Come back with something bigger and better than this.” We’d go house to house, making trades. At first, we’d trade in the paperclip for something smallish, like a cup or dish. We’d trade that in for something bigger… say, a basketball or framed piece of art. And on and on we’d go, until we were called back together to display our spoils.

Trading up is always a thrill. This is the message the rich ruler seemed to miss during his encounter with Jesus. He had his eyes on the prize of eternal life, but he misunderstood the path to getting there. Though he recognized Jesus as a “good teacher,” he missed God’s heart. This ruler was a good child who turned into a good man, and he wanted assurance that he was good enough.

Jesus rattled off a few of the ten commandments: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother” (Luke 18:20). To which the man had the audacity to respond, “I have kept all these from my youth” (v.21). But even if this man had been perfectly obedient with these commandments, keeping the letter of the law is not the same as following the heart of the God behind that law.

Jesus offered him a trade up.

Instead of keeping all the rules, the man could sell all his belongings. You see, Jesus knew that despite his outward obedience, the rich young ruler was missing out. His money was in the way. Rather than asking the man to make a tremendous sacrifice—another religious task—Jesus was really offering the man his freedom. But it does not always appear that way to those of us who hear such offers. No wonder the crowds declared, “Then who can be saved?” (v.26).

Jesus’s response: “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (v.27).

Go on, bring to the Lord whatever you hope will save you. Bring your good works and best days. Bring your charity and church membership. Bring your idyllic childhood and productive adulthood. And trade them in. He may not ask you to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor, but He will ask you to part with anything in your life that’s keeping you from knowing the love of God.

Accept Christ’s invitation to lay down your goodness for something better. It’s a trade up.

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (42)

42 thoughts on "Entering the Kingdom"

  1. Meg Herndon says:


  2. Churchmouse says:

    How like the rich young ruler we sometimes are. He believed his identity was in his wealth and in his vitality. To this day he is known as the rich young ruler. That is what he felt defined him. Do we not sometimes do the same? We let others’ opinions define us or our professions or our standard of living or our academic degrees or the success of our children or our clothing or our Facebook “friends” or our relationship status… You name it. The rich young ruler saw himself through the number of coins he had accumulated in his short life. But he knew he was yet missing something. Being told to give away that which he thought defined him cut him to the core – and unfortunately he traded down. He walked away. Oh he still had his riches and his youth but he walked away also with his low self esteem, a mistaken opinion of himself and a mistaken opinion of how God saw him and of who he could become. Such a sad outcome to a profound opportunity to get it right. Jesus tells us our true identity is found only in the One Who created us and the One Who died for us. He and He alone defines us. We grasp at other things and other people and we build our resumes or we feel we will never measure up because if only we had… Fill in the blank. Our true identity can only be found in Jesus Christ, in accepting Him. Colossians 3:10,11 tells us that how we formerly identified ourselves no longer applies. Neil Anderson wrote: “Our identity is no longer determined by our physical heritage, social standing or racial distinctions. Our identity lies in the fact that we are all children of God and we are IN CHRIST… A Christian gains forgiveness, receives the Holy Spirit, puts on a new nature and gets to go to heaven. A Christian, in terms of his or her deepest identity, is also a saint, a child born of God, a divine masterpiece, a child of light, a citizen of heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 further speaks of our identity. Why do we settle for less? Why do we fall for Satan’s lies? What “better“ are we unwilling to release that we might gain the “best“? Do we not trust the Giver? Ouch. Let’s renew our minds so we are not fooled. We are the daughters of the King who owns it all. We are His heirs. Let us never foolishly trade that for anything. All else is fool’s gold.

    1. Debbie Mace says:


  3. Susan says:

    I have been loving this study and this week imparticular has been thought provoking, convicting and soul searching for me. Thank you!

    1. Sherelle Cornejofranco says:

      I agree! Same. Thank you Jesus!

  4. Ashley Gwin says:

    Upon reading through today’s devotional for the first time, I am ashamed to say that my initial reaction was irritation. “What? You’re telling me all this work I’m doing isn’t good enough for God? He’s going to ask me for more?” Wow… How He used this moment to humble me. Grumpily, I began taking notes, referring back to today’s scripture, re-reading, and suddenly it clicked. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately praying about aspects of my character that I wish to turn over to God, for Him to reinvent to allow me to serve Him better. Ugly things like righteousness, and entitlement. See, I work very hard each day to be the image of self-discipline. From rising before anyone else, to accomplishing a long list of tasks that I see as bettering myself spiritually, physically, and emotionally. All under the pretense of “self-help” and “self-care”. I’ve been noticing the tendency lately for me to feel self-righteous and pompous when I complete all my daily goals. “Look at me, I’m so self-disciplined!” Yuck. As I wrote my notes today, I found God speaking to me. Erin’s words “Go on, bring to the Lord whatever you hope will save you, and trade it in”. Oh my… I heard God say in these words, “Take that supposed self-discipline that you hang so much self-worth on, and trade it in. That’s not what’s important to me”. Thank you Lord for hearing me, for taking the ugly parts of my heart and making them beautiful again. Today, I am striving to accept Christ’s invitation to lay down my own “goodness” for something better. Impossible standards only lead to feelings of failure, I’d much rather have a humble and gracious heart for the Lord.

    1. Bobbie Leathers says:

      THIS! Ashley, you nailed it! Thank you for sharing! ✝️

    2. Marytony Torres says:

      Thank you Ashley for your honest and humbling post. I felt identified too.

    3. Abby Hatch says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! Yes! I have similar lists! As women who among us doesn’t? Let’s trade them in!

    4. Janet C says:

      Ashley, I love this so much. Exactly how I feel at times. Thank you for being transparent and sharing. We all gain so much from each other when we can can share from our heart our deepest struggles and how God is speaking to us. It just makes me know that I am not alone in what I deal with

  5. Allison says:

    My first comment was supposed to be in response to Angie’s, but it went in the general feed. I still haven’t figured out this commenting things.

  6. Allison says:

    Our preschoolers a our church did that same lesson, and I had the privelage to teach them. And you are right, they are so enthusiastic about the things they learn that God can do! It’s beautiful and I pray that it is catching! That I could always believe so enthusiasticly in the The things God can do too! May we all!

  7. Steph C says:

    I just returned from a 10 day medical mission trip to Honduras. Over the days of clinic we treated almost 4,000 patients and saw 160 of them begin new relationships with God through faith in Christ. It always changes my perspective when I travel. I enjoy spending money on flowers for my yard. There’s nothing inherently wrong with flowers. God created beauty everywhere we look. But there are people who are working 12-16hr days for less than $7. They have to choose between basic medical care and feeding their children. Many have never heard of the hope that is in Christ. It breaks my heart. Do I have the right to be drinking $7 coffees and buying $30 bushes when there are so many who need so much? If I truly see my money as belonging to God and loaned to me, wouldn’t I make different choices?

    1. Diana Degnan says:

      Seeing the world is eye opening to the luxuries and conveniences we get accustomed to. Thank you for sharing !

  8. Angie says:

    Sunday we had the blessing to pick up our grandchildren at their church because their mommy and daddy had obligations each service. As we picked up our 3 year old he said, “Jesus made the blind man see. He fixed his eyes.” His joy and enthusiasm was absolutely beautiful and fully trusting in the truth.

    Jesus give me (us) eyes to see and hearts that accept your truths with enthusiasm, beautifully trusting You.

    And Lord, bless those men and women who spread Your Word to the children, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

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