Sometimes we have to get quiet in life and think about what’s most important to us. God has enormous physical blessings to give us but first of all, He wants us to be satisfied with Him. If all we had was God and lost everything else, would we be able to still trust Him? That’s a big question and one that needs to be considered every so often. This is the question a certain rich young ruler, living in Jesus’ time, was faced with.
The young ruler was rich. He was a leader. He had followed the Ten Commandments since he was young. He was a believer in God. So what went wrong? Matthew recorded:
“And, behold, one [the rich young ruler] came and said unto him [Jesus], ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’ And he said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’
“He saith unto him, ‘Which?’ Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; honor thy father and thy mother. And, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’
“The young man saith unto him, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up. What lack I yet?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.’
“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly [i.e. it’s hard for him to] enter into the kingdom of heaven.’
“And again I say unto you, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God [i.e. God’s way of doing things]” (Matt 19:16-24)
There are many interpretations of this record. The following is one that I feel is significant: In the ancient cities, there was an entrance into the city where the archway was low. This was called the eye of the needle. For the camels to enter, all of the goods on the camels’ backs had to be taken off. Once all of the riches had been unloaded, the camels could go through the “eye of the needle” and then be loaded back up on the other side.
As you can imagine, this took a deliberate decision and trust. The owner had to unload everything, walk through empty-handed and expect to get it all back on the other side.
Can you see how this applied to the rich young ruler and to us? The rich young ruler had to be willing to unload all that he had, give it to the poor and trust that by following Jesus in his new life the Lord would be the sovereign source of his wealth.
The man knew what it took in the world’s ways to get where he was and he just couldn’t see himself giving it all up. We don’t really know how this man got his wealth. Maybe he got it by inheritance. Maybe he had worked for it. What he didn’t realize and wouldn’t accept is that God is ultimately—and was willing to be to him—the source of all wealth.
If the man had just done what Jesus asked, he would have never lacked another thing in his life. But he was too afraid and he stayed behind. Look at what Jesus said next:
“Verily I say unto you, ‘There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands’” (Mark 10:29-30).
In other words, if the rich young ruler had been willing to lay down all his possessions, all his riches, all that he had and trust Jesus above all else, he would have received a hundred times more than he had before. That’s not a bad deal. What people sometimes don’t realize is that the Lord is the biggest giver of all.
Let’s look at Job in the Old Testament times. He lost everything because of his fear. “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” (Job 3:25).
But Job never gave up on God. In the end, he got back double of what he had before. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 4:10).
God wants to bless us “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), but He does require us to trust Him entirely, even if it looks like we have to give up everything. It doesn’t matter if we have a lot or a little, if we are really willing to lay down everything, most likely we will never have to. And if it’s something that we’re addicted to, the Lord will help us to get rid of it, or supernaturally deliver us from it. It’s a matter of the heart and God wants us to trust Him with all our heart.
The Lord is not a control freak, and He will never make us do anything. He has given us free will and so the benefits for making a free will choice to seek Him first, are manifold.
Moses tells us in Deuteronomy that God is a jealous God. “They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger” (Deut. 32: 16). He wants to be our source, our provider, our first love.
But He will never force us to accept that. We have to choose Him and decide to trust Him. If God knows He can trust us to do that, He will be there to overflow us with good: “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal 3:10). Not having enough room to receive, gives us the joy of overflowing it to others.
We don’t have to covet after what we see other people having. We just may be in the process of unloading our camels and braving the empty walk through the eye of the needle. We need to keep trusting and believing, because if we’ve been willing to lay it all down for the Lord, He’s going to take care of us and we are absolutely going to be satisfied with a long life (Ps. 91:16) and be loaded with benefits (Ps. 68: 19).
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