Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes it seems like being rich and being a “good Christian” are mutually exclusive positions. Is being a “rich Christian” an oxymoron? Was that the point of Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler?
Nowhere does Scripture condemn having money or wealth. In fact, it’s the love of money (1 Tim 6:10) that is prohibited, not the possession of it. And while it’s clearly OK to be rich, it does make it harder to enter the Kingdom of God because rich people tend to have a harder time seeing their spiritual bankruptcy. Additionally, rich people may think of themselves as self-sufficient and lacking nothing. If their worldly existence is so good, then why worry about the future?
The young ruler was ready to “take care of business” as Jesus told him what he must do to inherit eternal life…until Jesus went after his heart. That transaction was just too costly for the rich young ruler and so “he went away sad.” What a shame. He knew he had yet to obtain eternal life but he just couldn’t let go of his earthly security in exchange for eternal security.
If you are rich…meaning you have more than you need to live comfortably and your financial future is safe and secure…but have yet to cry out to Jesus for salvation, then listen carefully: your wealth is fleeting and your security will end with your last breath. Don’t let your riches blind you from your need for Christ. They will do you NO GOOD when it comes to your eternity.
If you are NOT rich…if you don’t have more than you need…then your challenge is to fight envy and covetousness and seek contentment. Don’t be a spiritual snob and look down on those who are “living the life.” Rather, care for them like Jesus does and focus on the condition of their hearts instead of the size of their estate.
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