The rich young ruler. Most of us are familiar with this story, but I think we can all benefit from a fresh look at the passage. Right when this man came to Jesus, he exposed his wrong mindset. He said, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). He doesn’t ask, “What must be done for me to be saved?” In other words, he thinks it is by his own power that he can save himself. When Jesus tells him to obey the commandments, he furthers his pride in saying, “all these things I have kept from my youth.” The Bible says even thinking hateful thoughts towards another is murder, and even thinking of those sins is committing them. So Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and follow Him. Seeing that he cannot save himself, the rich young ruler gives up and goes away sad. That is not the end of the lesson, however. Before the young ruler leaves, Jesus says to him,” How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” How hard! Loving our possessions and the pleasures of this world will only lead away from God. This man loved the things that he had more than he loved anything. More than his family, and even more than he loved heaven. Jesus told him that he would not go to heaven if he did not forsake his greed and follow the Light. Still he walked away knowing that he was forsaking heaven for his possessions.
Next in the passage comes the most familiar part. Jesus goes on to say,” For 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.” Wealth can be used to greatly further the kingdom of God, but more often greed warps our goals to lead away from God’s calling. I believe a rich man in this context is someone who hoards what they have and withholds it from God. A man who earns one million dollars a year could use that wealth to build entire orphanages and feed villages, or he could buy a bigger house, a nicer car. Those who earn much must be aware of how they spend it, lest they find themselves withholding from God’s purposes.
Jesus continues on after bystanders ask, “ Then who can be saved?” They realized that wealth meant not only the rich but those who do not lack what they need. Jesus says,” The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” The passage goes on to convey that all those who have left things or people behind to further the kingdom of God will not go unrewarded either in this life or in eternity afterwards. Although our rewards may come in forms other than what we expect, reward may be found in serving our Savior. So, though lacking no material thing is not a bad thing, let us not let our life become based around it; and remember that intent and mindset can powerfully change a situation, for better or for worse.
- How does your mindset affect the way you think about your well-being and salvation?
- Do you trust God more than you trust your wealth?
This week’s devotional was written by Darrel Current. Darrel is a strong believer in Christ, striving to live in God’s will in every part of his life. He is homeschooled and enjoys running, music, and spending time outdoors.