Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Kingdom of Heaven: The Folly of Being Rich - August 14, 2012
Matthew 19:16-24 (New International Reader's Version)
16 A man came up to Jesus. He asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?"
17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter the kingdom, obey the commandments."
18 "Which ones?" the man asked.
Jesus said, " 'Do not commit murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness. 19 Honor your father and mother.'—(Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20) And 'love your neighbor as you love yourself.' "—(Leviticus 19:18)
20 "I have obeyed all those commandments," the young man said. "What else do I need to do?"
21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad. He was very rich.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "What I'm about to tell you is true. It is hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But it is even harder for the rich to enter God's kingdom."
We in the West are both very blessed and at the same time very unfortunate, when it comes to following Jesus Christ. It is great that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and that we can practice our faith with very little grief or opposition. But it is also true, that because of the very freedom and wealth that we have, and the fact that we are blessed materially, that it is difficult for people as a whole to understand their need for the life-saving message of Jesus.
Doing right and wrong is fairly easy, because our foundation has for the most part dictated a certain moral code that has been embraced by society, and as long as relativists are held at bay, our country operates fairly and with civility. Because of all this, most people live in harmony and have little need for a God, much less a Savior. Although we are rich, we are extremely poor; we are rich in freedom and possessions, but we are poor spiritually.
That is what Jesus was talking about in these verses. It is difficult for those who have the wealth that we do to give it all up for the sake of God. It is not until we realize our extreme spiritual poverty that we realize our need for the Father and the salvation found in His Son. Once again this is a heart issue, more that it is a money issue. In our very rich country, even those without much money can have the same spiritual poverty that those who have much.
We need to pray for Americans to wake up and realize how poor they really are. We need to make everyone aware that they need to make the things of God a priority before it is too late. What do I mean? Well, in countries where the people are either extremely poor materially, or they are heavily persecuted when it comes to their faith, especially Christian faith, the things of God and His church is thriving. People cling to the hope that the Gospel message gives them, and they have a hunger to "feed on His Word" and learn of Him more.
We need to pray the we will realize our need for Jesus, before we are driven to our knees and have to realize our need the hard way.