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 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
- 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?
- If we are able to remain wealthy as Christians, how should we view our wealth? How can we use it for the kingdom?
- 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?