The Rich Young Ruler – Luke 18
The Rich Young Ruler – Luke 18
The story of the rich young ruler tells about a man who was seeking eternal life (vs. 18), treasures in heaven (vs. 22), the kingdom of God (vs. 24), and hence to be saved (vs. 26). Although he was rich in worldly goods, he was also spiritual having kept the commandments of the covenant (he lived under the old covenant and not under the new as we do). Yet, Jesus observed that there was still something that wasn’t right in his life and relationship with God.
What stood between this man and God was simply his love for his material wealth. It wasn’t the material wealth itself that was the problem, it was his love for it. Jesus told him: "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (vs. 22). If that had been told to any poor man living in poverty, it would have seemed to be nothing.
We live in a material world and thus there is always a need for some material possession. The problem is not as easy as trying to decide ‘how much is enough’ although THAT question is fraught with great difficulties. The problem is even more nefarious and deceptive for it involves the very disposition of our hearts.
The writer of Proverbs wrote: "Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8-9). Being poor is not in itself a blessing nor does it keep one from coveting and lust. Being rich may make physical life a bit easier but it yet causes the heart to struggle with coveting and lust. In addition, being rich often causes people to think they are self-sufficient and do not need God in their life.
Most people would, if given the choice, choose to struggle with the problems of being rich over the life of poverty. Yet Jesus strictly warned that such a choice will make it more difficult to be pleasing unto God. "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” (vs. 24-25).
Jesus statement is paralleled in many other bible passages. Paul warned that "those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1Tim. 6:9-10). The Psalmist of old stated "Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them” (Psalm. 62:10). Proverbs again says: "Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven” (Prov. 23:4-5).
You can serve God in all circumstances of life. You can serve him in poverty and you can serve him in wealth. They each have their own problems. The answer to both however is the same - love God with all your heart (Matt. 22:37; Deut. 6:5); seek first (above all else) the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33); and set your heart upon things above and not the things of this life (Col. 3:1-3).