The Rich Young Ruler
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person 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 a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:16-22 ESV
This passage from Matthew is my second least favorite of all scriptures. I know you aren’t supposed to say you have a least favorite, but it is. Because it cuts deep. I may not be that rich young man, but I feel like I am the one next in line to talk to Jesus and I no longer want to ask my question. This rich young man has sins similar to mine. We both love the comfort money gives us. We both identify ourselves with our monetary success. (Let’s be honest, most men do. Not sure about the ladies) We are both hard pressed to give it all up to follow Jesus.
Passages like this one hurt because they point out the idols we have in our lives. Idols in this case are not little statues that we worship as false gods but are things we have given a higher priority in our lives over than Jesus. I spend more time thinking about my job and my money than I do about Jesus most of the time.
The rich young ruler was probably a giver, after all that is part of a pious life. I bet he was a regular, constant tither. But he wanted wanted his “stuff” more than he wanted to follow Jesus. I am sure I am projecting, but I can hear the questions in his mind “Who would I be if I didn’t have my possessions? Certainly, he can’t mean that literally. Couldn’t I do much more good if I kept it and invested it and gave more?”
Of course, I don’t believe that Jesus is calling us all to a life of poverty, but I believe Jesus saw into this man’s heart and saw what he loved and what would prevent him from being his disciple. He saw his love of money.
If you are someone, like I am, who is interested in becoming a good steward then you must constantly be vigilant that money has not become an idol for your. You must guard against your debt free life becoming more important than your walk with the Lord. It is a very fine line and a very easy trap to fall into.
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