Today's verses: Mark 10:22,23: "Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.'" The rich, young man came to Jesus asking how to have eternal life. Jesus goes through the Ten Commandments, the way to truly see the condition of our hearts. The young man thought he obeyed them all. Jesus then asked him to give up all his wealth, give it to the poor and follow him. The young man walked away "sorrowful," the true condition of his heart laid bare. He loved his wealth. He loved his possessions. He loved his money. He refused to repent.
Jesus said: "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God."
Please note here that Jesus didn't say it would be impossible for people who have wealth to enter God's kingdom. There are numerous examples in the Bible of people who have wealth but also passionately love God. Abraham was extremely wealthy but he was the one God chose to begin the covenant promise of salvation. David amassed extreme wealth but was a "man after God's heart." Barnabas, in the New Testament, was very wealthy, selling land and giving it to the early church. A person can be wealthy and still love God. The Roman soldiers, at the foot of the Cross, gambled for Jesus' cloak. It must have been of some value or they wouldn't have wanted to gamble for it and possess it themselves.
Though not impossible to be wealthy and enter God's kingdom, Jesus did say it is "difficult." It's hard. Why? Because the chief rival god to God is money. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or the will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Paul said in I Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." He didn't say money is a root of all kinds of evil, but the love of money is a root of all evil.
People love money, oftentimes more than God. The rich, young man loved money more than God. It was his idol. He broke the first and the tenth commandments. He had an idol before God (money). He coveted other people's possessions. That drove him to desire more and more money.
The only way anyone enters God's kingdom is by grace through faith in Jesus. Rich people can love money more than God and not enter. Poor people can love money more than God and not enter. The heart condition of loving money is not isolated only for the rich.
But it does seem clear here that for those who have money, they seem not only to love money but also want more and more. It seems clear here that Jesus is teaching that it's very difficult for rich people to enter God's kingdom. They seem prone more to love money more than God.
Examine your heart today. Has the love of money captured your heart today? In your quiet moments, do you think about having more..and more...and more? Do your best energies drive you to possess and have more and more possessions?
If so, be careful. Jesus said it's very difficult for a rich person to enter God's kingdom.
By the way, there's a lovely legend that the rich, young man was actually named Barnabas. Some suggest that later this rich, young man named Barnabas was indeed converted to Christ and did indeed give up everything to follow him. That's why he sold a valuable piece of property and gave it to the early church. If true (and no one knows if it is), it is possible for rich people to follow Jesus and lay their huge means at his feet for his glory and service.
Personally, I hope the legend is true.