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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8/31/10 Matthew 19:18-24 Riches That Impoverish Us

18 "Which ones?" he inquired. Jesus replied, " 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.' " 20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."

(Samaritan's Purse donations being passed out to the needy)

Thoughts: What keeps us from the kingdom of God?  For this man it was his great wealth of which he could not let go.  Jesus was not asking him to give it up for nothing.  He promised him "treasure in heaven" if he gave to the poor.  He was basically asking him to not be so consumed with the reward in the here and now.  The more we have, the harder it is to hold on to these things loosely.  I have met many rich people who hold onto this life loosely, however.  They look for opportunities to give, and give gladly.  Generosity is a way to fight worldliness and greed.  I do not think Jesus was saying it is impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, but it is hard.  In a recession, we may be overly consumed with what we used to have, or what we want to have.  This is the same problem as the rich young ruler had.  Today, determine by God's grace, to not let money (or the lack of it) rule your thoughts and life.

Prayer: Lord, do not let anything blind me to you.  Keep my heart fixed on you and not distracted by the things of this world.  When I go astray, give me grace to come back to you. 

John Cavlin abridged:  Though Christ was indicating that the man needed to keep the whole law, he only mentions the second table [commandments toward others].  He did so because the charitable duties toward others indicates our true heart.  We are nowhere commanded to sell everything, but we are asked to deny ourselves and to not be covetous.  It is not that Christ was adding to the law-one more thing- but pointing out that he lacked one thing the law requires.  He does not just command him to sell all- which in itself can lead to pride; but to give to the poor.  Christ does not command all of us to sell what we have- for the person with children would be harming them by doing so.  To keep what God has given us, providing we use it soberly and frugally- giving to the poor, is a greater virtue than squandering all we have. If we are not prepared to endure poverty, then we are still consumed by covetousness. "Hard for the rich..." is a warning to the rich to be on their guard, and to the poor to be content with what they have. The camel represents the rich, so swelled with pride that they are not willing to go through the straits through which God makes his people pass. Christ adds that it is not only difficult but humanly impossible by ourselves to enter heaven.  But God's grace assists us in salvation.

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