In Luke 18: 18-24, a rich ruler asks, “Good teacher,” he said, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus always with a question back, I believe to find out if the person is being honest with himself, asked “Why do you call me good? … No one is good except God. You know what the commandments say. ‘Do not commit adultery. Do not commit murder. Do not steal. Do not give false witness. Honor your father and mother.’ ” Confidently the man responded,” I have obeyed all of the commandments since I was a boy.” Then Jesus, knowing this man’s heart and understanding what wealth and power can do to ones soul said, “You are still missing one thing. Sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”
The bible says that the man became very sad. Why? He was a believer, he was a good man. He followed all the laws God had required. In everyone’s eyes he was the model Christian he was morally upright, always there to help out his neighbor and probably even gave ten percent to the church from which he was never absent on the Sabbath. Why then would he be surprised and saddened by Jesus’ statement?
The story does not tell what the man did after Jesus responded, “How hard it is for rich people to enter God’s kingdom! Is it hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? It is even harder for the rich to enter God’s kingdom!” But I am sure he went home in tears contemplating how far he had missed the mark in his heart.
I don’t believe Jesus was saying that we should not attain and possess wealth; rather he was making a statement about how things (other gods) can take over our lives to the point where our faith in God and his blessing are diminished or even replaced by the money or the job or “fill in the blank.” We Christians have taken our eyes off of what God wants from us (that is our service) in favor of money, material possessions, or fear of future events that may somehow cause us to “lose our status vis-a-vis the Joneses next door.” Faith in God means faith in Him and Him alone. For many years many of us have viewed God as Alistair Begg once said, “a Cosmic Genie, existing only to serve us when we need a “wish granted.” I believe God is using these difficult times to wake up believers and call us to a closer relationship with Him recognizing that we serve Him and not the other way around. Simultaneously, he is creating a longing in the hearts of an unbelieving world to have a relationship that is bigger than the person in the mirror.
Brothers and sisters, we must take our eyes off ourselves and look up at Jesus and trust that He is in control and, will provide for us both in this present physical world and in our lives beyond the grave. There certainly are forces such as greed, lust, murder, envy and the like at work in the hearts of men, but God has his hand on world events and is bringing his followers to their knees in prayer by taking away those gods that we have chosen to worship over Him.