Riches and Poverty
A rich man came to Jesus seeking eternal life. There are some things that money can’t buy, and eternal life tops the list.
Eternal life is fellowship with God. A man cannot know the only true God until he forsakes every false god. This man’s money seems to have become his god, so Jesus called him to renounce the idolatry of things in order to become a disciple. Unwilling to part with mammon, the rich man parted with Jesus and left His presence sorrowful.
Then, Jesus spoke to His followers, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!” (v. 23). Peter replies, “We have left everything and followed you,” so Jesus assures him that true discipleship brings great rewards in this life and the next.
Let’s notice two things about this passage.
First, Jesus warns of riches that impoverish. Those who have riches will find it hard to enter the kingdom of God. These words caused the disciples to be amazed. The had the mistaken notion that wealth was evidence of God’s favor. God must love a man greatly to bless him so abundantly – so they reasoned.
The way of salvation which has been made by Jesus can only be entered by those who disavow their false gods – who forsake their trust in riches. If a man clings to his riches, saying no to the invitation of Christ, then his riches will impoverish and rob him of the only enduring wealth – that fellowship with God in Christ which is eternal life. Anything that would keep you from following Jesus is not worth the bargain. Riches can impoverish. The unsaved man is a pauper, whatever his bank balance!
On the other hand, Jesus speaks of a poverty that enriches. Whatever it costs to be a disciple of Jesus, the gains are far greater than the losses. What we receive is so much more than what we give.
Eternal life in the Father’s house, eternal fellowship with Jesus is the wealth that endures. There are riches that impoverish, but there is poverty that enriches. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
We must renounce our trust in things, to become poor in spirit, to recognize our dependence upon the mercy of God!