Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:21
At first read, Jesus' words seem extreme. Is God really asking us to sell all of our possessions so we can give them to the poor? Is Jesus calling us to a life of poverty? To get a better understanding, it is important that we take a more in-depth look at this passage of scripture.
There is a rich young ruler that comes to Jesus and asks the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus responded by directing the man towards the commandments and calls him to live in line with each one. The man looks back to Jesus and says, "Since I was a little boy, I have always kept the commandments." He was stating that he was perfect, all together, and sinless. This passage drips with irony as the rich young ruler is standing before the only person who has ever lived a sinless life, yet he doesn't realize his own imperfection. Jesus, knowing the man's heart, cut to the chase and reveals one area that he falls short. His great wealth held him back from following Jesus. Jesus went after the one thing that this young ruler loved more than God.
It is equally important to note that Jesus didn't make this statement to every rich person that he met. We don't see Jesus call Zacchaeus or Matthew out for their great wealth, which as tax collectors would have been easy targets. However, Jesus had a lot to say about how we handle the finances that God entrusts to us. Jesus spoke about money in two-thirds of His parables. The first four books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—talk about money in one out of every ten verses, and the whole Bible has 2,300 references. Jesus knew how critical this topic would be because money is the greatest competitor for our hearts and affections. It can ruin relationships, lead to stress and anxiety, and it can turn a person's heart away from God.
Jesus wanted what was best for this rich young ruler, and He wants it for us as well. He wants us to lay down our pride and to honor God with our finances. A great starting place is to put together a budget and then to set aside 10 percent to Him. When you break the cycle of thinking that everything belongs to you financially, it changes your perspective. Jesus was actively trying to change the rich young ruler's pattern. What would Jesus say about the way you are handling your own finances?
Think through how you are doing at honoring God with what He has given you. Have you set aside a portion to give back to Him? Are you living for getting more stuff like a boat, a new car, or a huge house or instead are you pursuing opportunities to make a difference? Work through these questions and take some time to ask God to be Lord over your finances. If you are in deep debt or need help, we would love to share more information about our financial classes through our Living Free program. To get more information check out our website at www.sagebrush.church/care.
Read Matthew 19:16-22 (NLT)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
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