Over the course of the past year I have been coming to the conclusion that many of us Christians in America are just like the rich young ruler.
The problem is, however, not that we have too many riches, though we certainly have a lot. The problem is we want more riches for the wrong reasons. Many of us desire a richer life, to be comfortable, to have only what we need. It’s not necessarily that we want to have millions, but a certain amount would be just enough, or where we are is just okay, but we’d readily admit we could use a little more.
Now, many people might think that simply desiring more means we are sinning in some way. We should be thankful for what we have, right? We don’t really need more, right? I mean, come on, many people are far poorer than we are, so suck it up and be grateful.
Now the problem with this thinking is that we are in the same situation as the rich young ruler. The problem isn’t we shouldn’t desire more, the problem is we don’t desire enough.
Look at it this way. The king of heaven has declared you to be his adopted child. He has sealed your inheritance by giving you two of the most precious gifts he could give: His son in your place of judgment, and the Holy Spirit for your good. And so now you walk around, a child of the king. And instead of realizing who you are, you hang your head low, thinking that your lot in life is what you had before you were adopted. You’ll just be poor.
You see, the rich young rulers problem wasn’t that he had too much or that he just couldn’t give away all his possessions. His problem was he didn’t want more possessions.
Look at Jesus’ response:
Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:24-30 ESV)
The way Jesus responds to the rich young ruler may seem like having wealth hinders you from the kingdom of God because of wealth itself. But look at the last verse. Jesus is saying you will receive far more in the kingdom than what you have ever given up.
So the problem with the rich young ruler isn’t that he had too much. His problem was he had too little. Both physically and spiritually. His possessions now wouldn’t stack up with what the lowest person in the kingdom would receive.
And I say the problem with Christian in America today is the same. Our problem isn’t that we want too many riches. Our problem is we don’t want riches enough because we are offered far more in the kingdom of God.
And what did Jesus say to the rich young ruler? Sell your possessions and give it to the poor, then you’ll have treasure in heaven. I need to flesh this out more in another post, but basically put, if we want more in the kingdom of God, we need to give away more here and now. In the same way Christ gave up everything and obtained everything, we must sacrifice our lives to obtain everything.
Work hard. Obtain as much so you can give away even more. Seek wealth, not for yourselves, but for others. Make money to give to your family, friends, and those in need who can’t give back.
Be like God, who gives far more than He will ever receive. Do the same. Make as much as you can, and give even more.