How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!
Luke 18:18-43 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept since my youth.” 22 Now when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy. 24 And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For 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!” 26 Those who heard Him said, “And so who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
28 Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” 29 And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times as much at this time, and in the age to come, eternal life.”
31 Now He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that have been written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be ridiculed, and abused, and spit upon, 33 and after they have flogged Him, they will kill Him; and on the third day He will rise.” 34 The disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.
35 Now as Jesus was approaching Jericho, a man who was blind was sitting by the road, begging. 36 But when he heard a crowd going by, he began inquiring what this was. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He asked him, 41 “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Regain your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.
In today’s text it says: A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these things I have kept since my youth.” Now when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For 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!” Those who heard Him said, “And so who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” It seems odd to me, in light of what Jesus says here, that so much of the church today focusses on the wealth and prosperity that Jesus wants us to have. Why should we focus on the very thing that Jesus says will make it difficult to enter the kingdom of God? 1 Timothy 6:10 says: The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. The key is that it is not money or wealth that is the problem; that’s not what makes it difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s the love of money that makes it difficult to enter. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” In order then for wealth not to be a hindrance to entering the kingdom, wealth cannot be served, but rather must be given in service to the kingdom. It is good to have much, as long as we are willing to give much. In Luke 12:48 Jesus says: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” This applies not only to money and wealth, but to everything we have been given by God, including our natural and spiritual gifts.
Ephesians 4:7-16 says: To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Romans 12:6-8 says: Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Everything we are given; all the blessings that are ours in the kingdom of heaven, are not for our own pleasure, but rather are for the benefit of others; to build up the body of Christ and the kingdom of God. We cannot enter the kingdom of God if we hold on to our riches, but if we will, give it to God, if we will give all that we have and all that we are, we will receive more than we can hold. In Luke 6:38 Jesus says: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit, that while wealth and riches may make it difficult to enter the kingdom, once we have entered, by loving, following and serving You, we have all the riches of the kingdom at our disposal, to have and to use for the kingdom. I have been given much, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may I give all that I have and all that I am. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.