It is generally true that things are easier for the wealthy. Money opens doors. In most areas of life—education, health care, travel, leisure—we find that the mechanisms are oiled by access to a great amount of cash. No wonder that money is often regarded as the universal passport!
But there is one important door that wealth will not automatically open. The rich young ruler discovered that in seeking eternal life, his wealth proved to be not a benefit but a barrier to his entry into the kingdom of God. His way to salvation was blocked by his unwillingness to surrender his possessions and follow Jesus, so he left his conversation with the Messiah sad, with his wealth intact but his soul in peril (Mark 10:22).
This man’s sadness was more than matched by that of Jesus. He recognized how easy it was to rely on possessions and lose sight of what really matters. And the way Jesus viewed the rich young ruler was consistent with His teachings elsewhere in the Gospels. On one occasion, for example, He told the story of a farmer who tore down his barns to build bigger ones (Luke 12:13-21). This was a legitimate choice, but the man foolishly relied on his wealth to determine his spiritual condition, saying, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” (v 19)—and Jesus said he was therefore a fool, for he was not ready for death and could not buy his way through it (v 20). After all, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Too often, we too are guilty of finding our security in “stuff.” We may do so through acquiring assets for ourselves or even through philanthropic giving for the sake of our reputations. Either way, though, in our pursuits we so easily (to paraphrase the song “Mr. Businessman”) place value on the worthless while disregarding what is actually priceless.
Nothing you or I have or do is sufficient to pay our way through death and into eternal life. “With man it is impossible,” the Lord Jesus told His followers after the rich man left, “but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). The danger of wealth is that it makes us proud and self-reliant, and we forget that God and God alone is the one who saves.
Would you be willing to give up your wealth (whatever level you enjoy) if Jesus asked you to do so in His cause? Or would you hold back because the demand was too big and the cost too great? Repent of any way that you have been relying on your possessions, and rejoice in the salvation that comes because of God’s mercy. It is no secret what God can do. Whoever comes to Him, He will never turn away.
The Parable of the Rich Fool
13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
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