Can Work and Wealth Provide the Life We Desire?

Building and Bridge in Downtown Savannah

Do you sense something is missing in your life? Do you feel like there is more for your to do, but you can’t seem to do enough to fill the void? The Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19 felt the same way. The void in his life drove him to ask Jesus what He must do to gain eternal life.

Jesus’ Response

Jesus answers, but not in the way the man was expecting. Jesus asks him to give it all away and follow Him. Jesus says,

If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mt 19:21)

When Jesus tells the man to give it all away, he wasn’t giving him another work to do. He was doing much more. He was exposing the man’s heart and teaching us salvation isn’t gained through our works.

Our Other gods

To the Rich Young Ruler, his possessions and accomplishments were his salvation, his comfort and protection, his identity – they were what made him.

Jesus tells him that if he wants salvation, if he wants eternal life, he has to repent. He has to quit using work and wealth as a means of salvation. He has to recognize that there is only One God and Savior.

You see, we can’t have two masters. We can’t have: Jesus and wealth, or Jesus and accomplishments, or Jesus and sex, or Jesus and power, or Jesus and success. No, we can’t divide our loyalty. It is has to be all Jesus. Our heart has to be all His.

So when Jesus tells the Rich Young Ruler to give it all away, He is telling him to give up his other gods. Give up the idea that your work and wealth provide salvation. Trust in God alone. Rely on God alone. If you do that, you will have eternal life. You will have treasure in heaven. You will have the life you desire.

The Same Goes For Us

The only way we will find eternal life is if we put away our other gods and follow Jesus. Find our identity in Jesus. Fully trust in and depend on Jesus.

No matter how hard we try, our work and wealth can’t provide the life we desire.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Can Christianity and wealth co-exist? In other words, can Christians be wealthy? Or should we sell everything and give it to the poor? Why or why not?
  2. If we are able to remain wealthy as Christians, how should we view our wealth? How can we use it for the kingdom?
  3. How can we deal with the idolatry of wealth? In other words, how can we keep ourselves from chasing after wealth?


Post adapted from my sermon: Can Work and Wealth Provide the Life We Desire?

2 thoughts on “Can Work and Wealth Provide the Life We Desire?

  1. I think what you are getting it is that there are no “Jesus and…” statements that work. We either put Jesus front and center or it doesn’t matter. One that I always like to add to those statements are Jesus and religion. I was attending service at a big megachurch in Southlake awhile back and the preacher was talking about their special offering. They hoped to raise $10,000,000 for capital and program improvements. He told the story about a woman who gave $100 at the last special offering even though she really couldn’t afford it. After church, a man approached her in the parking lot and said God had led him to her and he wanted to give her $150. Another man was struggling in his business but was led to give $50,000. A short time later, he received an offer to buy his business for millions and more than it was worth. I hope their new parking lot is effective at making disciples.

    I could go off on my soapbox about the my belief in the fallacy of tithing but I’ll save it for now and leave it at the caution for all of us to beware of “Jesus and…” wherever we find it. Big buildings and fun programs are really no closer to the Gospel call to make disciples than a speedboat and a trophy wife. It may be easy to argue the difference but anytime something pulls us from living in the footsteps of Christ it has become a “Jesus and…”

    Keep up the good work, my brother. I love your devotion and passion for The Lord.

    1. Jeff,

      Thanks for your reply. I agree. There can’t be Jesus and… I also agree the church you attended in Southlake went about their fund raising program in a wrong manner. I also was apart of a church that did that same thing when they wanted to build. I continued to tithe, but did not give the building fund. Primarily, because I felt they went about it in an unbiblical manner. They did exactly what you described.

      That tactic, I believe, does a disservice to our people, if not an outright preying on them. It reminds me of God’s rebuke of Shepherds in Ezekiel 34. In actuality the church is benefiting from their people’s idolatry of wealth and materialism, when they should be leading them out of it.

      Thanks for reading, the comment, and the encouragement.


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