Letting go of our worldly wealth means we gain something much more valuable. When we humbly come before God with empty hands, he will care for us like a loving father does his children.
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’
18 A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
19 ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.”
21 ‘All these I have kept since I was a boy,’ he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
26 Those who heard this asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’
27 Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’
28 Peter said to him, ‘We have left all we had to follow you!’
29 ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.’
34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
In every way the world will tell us that we need to grasp for wealth and power and status. There are some very greedy people in this world and it’s obvious that they have well and truly
fallen into the trap of believing worldly wealth is what will give them worth. We all fall into this trap though. It just might not be as obvious. I think a lot of the time it may be masked as being “smart.” Most of us would agree that putting a little aside for a rainy day is a smart thing to do. I do agree that it’s smart, but we must be careful that our identity is not caught up in what we have and that we don’t become greedy. And we must be willing to let go of what we have if it is what is keeping us from whole heartedly following Jesus. It’s a bit like what Jesus says in Matthew, “If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
There are two kinds of people talked about in this passage, little children and a rich man. Jesus says that if we are not like the little children then we will not receive the kingdom of God. What does that mean? We can’t physically become a child again… But we can become childlike in our hearts. Children depend on their parents. They cannot thrive without care. In the same way we cannot expect to make it into eternity on our own. We need God, our father, to help us.
The rich man became sad when Jesus told him to give all he had to the poor. Jesus knew his heart and knew that he found his identity in his money. Whenever I read this passage, I always wonder what that man did. Did he go and sell everything? I hope he did. I would love to hear the rest of his story. Maybe he chose to give his money away and give his life to God and we’ll get to meet him one day.
With both the children and the rich man Jesus is giving us the same lesson. Letting go of our worldly wealth means we gain something much more valuable. When we humbly come before God with empty hands, he will care for us like a loving father does his children. The last part of the passage shows us, as always, Jesus is our model in everything. Jesus became nothing in the eyes of the world. The greater of the universe hung on a cross like a criminal. Nothing else is a humbling as that.
There is a song that I love called “I don’t live for myself” by Isla Vista Worship, and in writing this I was reminded of a line in it.
“If the Son of God could lay down his life, then who am I to hold on to mine”
Head: Are you more like the children or the rich man?
Heart: Other than Jesus, what do you find your identity in?
Hands: Hold loosely to the things you have in your hands. In fact be willing to empty them. Consider everything nothing compared to the fact that we know and are known but our great God.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for sending your Son to give his life. Thank you for his incredible example of strength and courage to live according to your will. Help me to humbly follow his example and live for you. Amen
A song to listen to: I don’t live for myself – Isla Vista Worship
Living Church – Creek Road