Hidden Nuggets Series #96 – “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
On one occasion in the Bible a rich young ruler approached Jesus with a very serious question. The man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After a brief back and forth exchange Jesus had this final answer for him:
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
He also wasn’t saying that we all have to give up our wealth to enter heaven. And he certainly was not saying that God favors the poor over the rich. God looks upon all people with equal value regardless of their financial status.
Jesus knew something about this particular man though…something that was keeping him from inheriting eternal life. The man’s reaction to Jesus’ final instruction reveals exactly what it was.
After Jesus told the young man what he must do to have treasure in heaven the Bible tells us the man “went away sorrowful for he had great possessions.” The man’s wealth kept him from having a relationship with God. He loved his wealth too much to give it up.
How sad…but how common.
With God All Things Are Possible
Jesus used the man’s reaction as a launching point for a deeper lesson on significant wealth as it relates to people coming to know God. As the man walked away Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
“Assuredly I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24)
What a powerful visual. Whether Jesus is referring to an actual camel and needle or simply being symbolic doesn’t matter. The point is clear. The rich have challenges with their wealth. It serves as a barrier that dampens ones enthusiasm for a relationship with God. It becomes more and more of an obstacle the more one has.
But why is that? Why does money keep a person from coming to know God in the first place? I can think of several reasons in no particular order:
- It’s a trust issue. We’d rather put our faith in a tangible asset than an invisible God.
- We love our possessions and the comforts they afford. It’s hard to imagine finding more comfort in something else.
- Money is security. Why would we look to another for security if we already have it?
- Money is freedom. The fear is that a relationship with God might complicate that freedom (even though those of us who have a relationship with God know it doesn’t…it really enhances the levels of freedom.)
Jesus’ disciples recognized the gravity of his statement and were greatly astonished. They asked him, “Who then can be saved?” to which Jesus replied, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
What’s Your Issue?
The rich young ruler’s issue was his money. It kept him from having a relationship with God. That’s why Jesus challenged him to give it up. Jesus’ basic point was, “Are you willing to love God more than your money?”
As we saw the man’s answer was “No.”
Maybe for you it’s not money. Maybe something else is keeping you from knowing God. I don’t know what it is…you’ll have to analyze your own life. If you’re honest it shouldn’t take long to figure it out.
When you do, give that issue to God. Let Him have your whole heart. He wants to be priority #1 in your life.
If you let Him be then you will be more blessed than you could possibly imagine.
Questions: Can you think of other reasons money might be such a barrier to people coming to know God? Has there been a time when you’ve placed something else above your relationship to God? What would you have said to the rich man if you’d been standing nearby? Do you believe that with God all things are possible?