Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
Those who heard this asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’
Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’ Peter said to him, ‘We have left all we had to follow you!’
Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’
What do you value most in life? I think back to some of the clients I have had the privilege of advising as a consulting partner. For some it was their classic car collection, priceless antiques, or country estates. For a few, it was significant charitable trusts giving them the ability to change their society.
Jesus was approached by a ruler with an important, life-changing question: ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus recognises the urgency of the questioner and reminded him of what he already knew about keeping the commandments. The ruler was quick to respond that the commandments were child’s play – he had kept them all!
Then Jesus shocked him, putting his finger on the heart of this person’s difficulty: ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
We learn that the ruler became very sad, because he was wealthy. Jesus commented that it would have been easier for a fully laden camel to go through the eye of a needle, the smallest opening to be found in any domestic home, than for this wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Yet the offer was there, as it is for all of us: come and follow me. The rich ruler was too focused on his wealth, and missed that call. Before he could truly live for Christ, that idol had to be toppled.
The disciples were worried. If a wealthy man finds it this hard to be saved, what about everyone else? Jesus was clear, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’
Many things may conspire to prevent us from answering God’s call to follow him. He alone provides the ability for us, by faith, to do so wholeheartedly. The lesson here is that our wealth and possessions, whatever we have, must not be an impediment to our relationship to Christ. All that we have is from him and therefore belongs to him alone. He may well ask for us to give it all back to him for his royal use.
What practice might remind you of that this week? For example, you could write a verse from Luke on your bank card that you see every time you pay for something, constantly reorienting yourself towards the one from whom all you have comes.
Are you rich towards God?
Chair, Langham Partnership UK and Ireland
What practices could you incorporate this week which de-centre the importance of money, by putting the generosity of the kingdom first and taking up your cross to follow Christ? Join in the conversation in the comments below.