Hope for your financial life and beyond

With God All Things Are Possible – Even Saving Rich People

“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)

with god all things are possibleIt’s easy to misinterpret what Jesus was saying to the young man. He was not saying that owning possessions is bad. Nor was he saying that a person can buy their way into heaven. That can only happen through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

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.

So what was going on here? In essence, Jesus knew something about this particular man. It was something that was keeping him from following Jesus and inheriting eternal life. The man’s reaction to Jesus’ final instruction reveals exactly what it was.

Loving Wealth Too Much

Jesus had told the young man what he must do to have treasure in heaven. The instructions came in three steps:

  1. Sell your possessions.
  2. Give to the poor.
  3. Follow Me [Jesus].

We know the man probably admired Jesus. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have asked Jesus such an important question. So Step #3 [following Jesus] was probably not the issue. The man was probably willing to do that.

Most likely, he also would have been fine with Step #2 [giving to the poor]. He know he was wealthy, so it makes sense that he would have been willing to give to the poor if Jesus asked him to.

But Jesus knew the issue for this man was Step #1. And the man’s reaction when Jesus told him what to do says it all. We are told the man:

 “…went away sorrowful for he had great possessions.” – Matthew 19:22

The man’s wealth kept him from having a relationship with God. He was too attached to his possessions to relinquish them, give to someone in need and chart a new course for his life. He missed out on so much.

Related Content: Attachment: The Giving Killer

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. He wanted to highlight significant wealth as it relates to people coming to know God. So, 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. 

Related Content: More Money, More Problems: The 10 Challenges of the Wealthy

Wealth serves as a barrier that dampens enthusiasm for a relationship with God. Therefore, 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:

  1. It’s a trust issue. We’d rather put our faith in a tangible asset than an invisible God.
  1. We love our possessions and the comforts they afford. It’s hard to imagine finding more comfort in something else.
  1. Money brings security. Why would we look to another for security if you already have it?
  1. Money grants freedom. A relationship with God might complicate that freedom as we are forced to “give up” certain things.

The Disciples Leading Question

Jesus’ disciples were greatly astonished by this interaction. To their credit, they recognized the gravity of Jesus’ statement. Only one question was on their mind and they were bold enough to ask it.

They said to him:

“Who then can be saved?” – Matthew 19:25

It’s a powerful question considering the theology of the time. Everyone thought the rich had been blessed by God in some way. They had done some good deeds, followed the teaching of the Old Testament law, and thus were being rewarded.

So, if those who had been blessed by God (i.e. the rich) could not get into heaven, then who could? Not surely sinners, the poor and other outcasts of society.

This is probably where Jesus wanted to go all along. He always had a path he wanted to take people on in these discussions. It was an incredible teachable moment for the disciples and anyone else listening nearby.

Jesus replied to the disciples question by uttering one of his most famous statements:

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Salvation for the rich is possible. Salvation for the poor is possible. Even salvation for outcasts and sinners is possible. And it all rests on God’s shoulders.

Related Content: How to Become a Christian and Follow Jesus [off site at Read the Bible In a Year.com]

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. It’s something else keeping you from knowing God. If you honestly reflect on your life, 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. He wants you to follow him.

If you let Him be, then you will be more blessed than you could possibly imagine.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: 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?

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  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    True enough. Things are possible with God. When we truly have faith in God, everything we see is achievable and doable.

  2. Money and the desire for money can make people do crazy things.

  3. Thank you, I needed that reminder. Good writing.

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