Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 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.”
And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” Mark 10:21-26
I remember sitting there in the bullpen in Colorado, reading this passage. And I said, “God, I don’t necessarily think I’m dependent on money, but I know what money does for the Kingdom. If you’re telling me to give it all up, sell everything, and give to the poor, then you know what? I think I could do it. But I don’t think you’re telling me to do that. Or are you telling me to do that? What do you mean?”
Whenever you read this passage, you always stop and say, “Wait a minute, are you telling me to go give away everything?” Am I right? It’s a very challenging passage.
I don’t think that’s necessarily what He’s saying. He’s just pointing out that it’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. It’s not impossible. I have to remind people of this all the time. You’ve got to understand church history. The eye of the needle was obviously not an actual needle, right? It was a gate. Jesus was standing near it, so He pointed over to it. The gate was not that big. It was actually just for a small little cart, and He was just saying that a camel could get through it, but it’s very difficult, and not normal.
It wasn’t normal for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven, because rich men didn’t realize that they were dependent on God. They thought they didn’t need God. “What do I need?” they would ask. “I’ve got a house, I’ve got fine clothes, I’ve got security, I’ve got servants, I’ve got people that make my food. What are you saying that I need? God? I am God!” Because in that day, that’s truly what people thought! Rich men were called lords, they were called kings, and they said, “I don’t need God.”
So Jesus looked at the rich young man’s heart and saw this. The young man asked, “What do I need to do to have eternal life?” I mean he has kept all the commandments right? And he probably thought it was something he could pay for. I guarantee you he would have paid for it! If God were to have said, “Okay, give me a thousand dollars,” the young man would have said “Here you go.” But instead God said, “I want you to give everything up.” Woah. You see, he thought he kept all the commandments but Jesus was telling Him that he broke the first commandment and that’s “you shall have no other god before me.” So Jesus told him your god is your riches.
“That’s right,” He said, “I want you to give your fake god up! You are not dependent on me as your God. If you want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven, you have to be dependent on me for everything. You have to realize that every breath you take, every amount of money that you make, is only there because I allow it to happen. If I want to take it away, I’ll take it away.” That’s what happened between Jesus and the rich young man.
I truly believe that God gives, and He takes away. I have a reverential fear of that. I understand that He could take baseball away in an instant. God could ruin me financially, and I’d have nothing. He can do that any time. And so I truly want Him to know that when I tithe, when I donate, when I give money in service of His Kingdom, it’s because I’m saying look, first and foremost, this isn’t my money.
Do I believe I’ve been blessed with money? Absolutely! I have financial prosperity, there’s no doubt about that. I don’t deny that. But what do I do with it? More on this next time. See you Thursday.