Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jesus taught about the Problem of Material Wealth (Mark 10:17-27)

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy’
(Mark 10:17-20,

In Mark 10:17-27, Lord Jesus used a conversation with a rich man to emphasize to His disciples – and to us – the disappointments and dangers of making wealth a primary goal in life. The rich man seemed to have a serious interest in living a God-pleasing life (“ran up to Jesus… fell on his knees before Jesus…” he asked questions and proudly said that he followed all God’s commandments). But Jesus was aware of the one area in which the man had placed something else ahead of God. Jesus looked at him and loved him, “One thing you lack,” He said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

Wow! Jesus’ words aimed directly to the young man’s wealth! Jesus’ command uncovered the “one thing” that standing in the way of the man’s relationship to God: his worship to his wealth. “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (10:22). He was so attached to his possessions that he was unwilling to accept Jesus’ offer of heavenly treasure and membership among His followers. As the rich man walked sadly away, Jesus taught His disciples about the problems of wealth. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!... It is easier for a camel to go through the eyes of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (10:23, 25). That’s simply mean, it’s humanly impossible.

Why is material wealth such an obstacle to spiritual wealth? Because material wealth is the most sinister counterfeit for God that man has ever devised. Let’s face it, wealth can solve many problems: bring happiness and fulfil our material wants and needs. Someone can become so reliant on wealth that he begins to wonder, “Who need God, anyway?” No wonder Jesus said elsewhere: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24, “money” also translated as “mammon” and “riches”). Understand this: Jesus didn’t say it’s a sin to be rich; He said it is difficult to be Christian and rich at the same time because of the temptation to rely on wealth rather than God. Jesus didn’t said it is wrong to want and own nice things; He said it is wrong to make things your major goal in life because first place in your heart is reserved for God alone.

Friends, first place in our lives is not big enough to handle both God and the desire for riches. One of them must go! But we have the assurance from Jesus that when we make the commitment to give God the highest place and priority in our lives more than our paychecks, allowances and saving accounts, He will actively meet our needs and throw in the bonus of “treasure in heaven” (Mark 10:21) for us. Is this sound impossible for you? Yes and No. Yes because “with man this is impossible” (rich or poor); and No because “with God, all things are possible with God” (10:27). Amen.

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