How would you react if God told you to give up something big? We know that we are supposed to give God our tithe and offerings. We even know that, especially around the holidays, people become extra benevolent with gifting others, but what if God told you to give up something crazy? Think of your favorite possession, what if THAT was the thing that he told you to give. What if he told you to give one of your cars to someone who doesn’t have one or to give a truly sacrificial offering to the point where you can’t see how the rest of your bills would be covered for the month? Would you be able to trust him and do that thing? Today we will look at the last of our idolatry mini-series and talk about our treasures being our idols.
We are going to take a look at the story of the rich young ruler. When the story starts with Jesus traveling. A man runs up to him and asks how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that the man that should know the commandments and specifically says he should not murder, commit adultery, steal, give false testimony, or defraud and that he should honor his father and mother. The young man replies that he has done these things since his youth. Jesus then counters and says that he should sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. The young man walks away from Jesus, as the New American Standard Bible says, grieving.
The young man’s actions tell me a couple things about him. First his possessions were more important to him than what God had for him. He started the conversation with asking Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. He knew the reward that was being offered but he couldn’t bring himself to complete the action that was required. He wouldn’t sacrifice in his present moment for a future reward. How often do we settle in the present because we can’t see what is in the future? If God has made a promise to you, it may require some work or some sacrifice, but the end result will be so worth it.
The second thing this shows me is that the young man didn’t have a heart for God or for the poor. Matthew 6:21 says that wherever your treasure is, the desires of your heart will also be. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give them to the poor and he made the decision not to do that. So not only was he only focused on himself and his desires, but he cared more about his possessions than the people he could have helped. When it comes to Jesus, he loves a giver. Jesus even says in Mathew 25:40 that whatever you do for the least of these, you have also done for me. This young ruler could have blessed the poor and in Jesus’ eyes it would have been like him blessing Jesus as well.
In today’s time, world seemingly revolves around how much money you have and who has the flashiest car or the biggest home. In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching His “sermon on the mount” and teaches about giving to the needy, prayer and fasting, money and possessions. In Matthew 6:19-20 Jesus starts by saying not to store up treasures on earth where the moths will eat them, and rust will destroy it and thieves will steal it but to store your treasures in heaven. Jesus repeats that last line to the rich young ruler right before he walks away. Money and possessions will come and go but if we lose sight of what is most important, then we are no better than the rich young ruler. Don’t let idolizing possessions of this world cost you the blessing of eternal life.