Prosperity is a Double-Edged Sword
Yesterday we discussed the fact that being rich or poor wasn’t as an issue in whom Jesus taught – that what matters to Him is the heart of the particular person.
Let’s look at His interesting encounter with the rich, young ruler in Mark.
17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19″You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25″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.” 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
28Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”
29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31″But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” (Mark 10:17-31 NASB)
To the Jewish thinking of the day, these are some pretty revolutionary statements. Not only was the rich, young ruler disheartened, so were those who had already given up everything in the world to follow him.
The young man came in great humility and proved to be as righteous as a man can be in the standard of the Law. It is stated that Jesus loved him. Now, it seems in every way he was qualified to enter into the Kingdom of God. But when worldly riches were mentioned, it became a stumbling block for him. He was unwilling to give up everything. But in this case, wealth became a snare for him. Of course he desired eternal life, but not at the cost of losing every worldly possession.
Jesus declared that the very nature of wealth and prosperity makes it one of the biggest obstacles for entering into the Kingdom of God. It is not merely wealth that distracts us from God; many temptations of this world can stand in the way for us to follow Him. However, wealth is one of the most enticing and the hardest to give up, in part because it can help us obtain so many other distractions and temptations.
Even more on this subject tomorrow, so stay tuned, and if you think someone else would enjoy this blog – pass it along.