A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 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.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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.” Luke 18:18-25
One of the most challenging things about being a disciple of Jesus in our culture and society is the constant allure of earthly things. Our Master has invited us to become obsessed with the God’s Kingdom and righteousness (see Matthew 6:33), but the worldly culture that surrounds us invites us to obsess about what we can immediately see, hear, taste, and touch.
The Kingdom of God can only belong to those whose hearts belong entirely to the true King, the one living and true God. YHWH has never been willing to share the loyalty of His beloved people with other gods, and He has always demanded covenant faithfulness (as He has always shown covenant faithfulness to them). Just as Israel was adamantly warned against being drawn into the ways of the nations around them, so the disciples of Jesus have been warned against being drawn back into the ways of the worldly corruption we have escaped (see 2 Peter 1:4 & 2:20).
Wealth and worldly “stuff” are a snare precisely because they anchor us to this temporary and tangible world and its priorities. Consider the effect it had on the rich man who spoke with Jesus. Rather than hearing the answer to his question about how to have eternal life, he heard only the call to lose out on his earthly possessions. You’d think that if he was as desperate to have certainty about his eternal life as he let on, he’d have been ecstatic to have been offered a way to receive that eternal life, treasure in heaven, and a chance to be with Jesus. Sadly, the love of earthly things had so enslaved him that these indescribably generous offers were lost on him. Rather than joy, he knew sadness.
Be wary, Disciple, because you live in a very affluent society. The standards by which our culture defines wealth are very different from our King’s standards. The meanings of “need” and “want” are too easily confused for us. Stay firmly rooted in the Scriptures and remain sensitive to the Spirit’s voice. Generosity replaces the selfish consumeristic drive to have more and more for ourselves. Channeling our resources to advance our Father’s kingdom work becomes the priority, where once it was to advance our own worldly agenda for comfort and entertainment.
It might seem that the draw of the world is so strong that it is impossible to have a Kingdom focus like the one Jesus is calling for. But how sweet it is to know that “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27)! You are a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and so you are a product of the impossible. May your heart never cease to be won by that Kingdom and its King!
Living for true riches of eternal life with you,