By many accounts, the teachings of Christ in today’s passage seem irrational. The completely selfless proposition of forsaking everything we own to benefit others is counterculture. Thoughts that would generally populate our minds (at least mine at some points) are “I worked hard for this money, it’s mine!” or “Well, what I am supposed to live on?” Why would I ever give up everything, let alone to someone I don’t know?
Money has always been, and continues to be, one of the greatest idols in the eyes of humanity. The man Jesus is speaking to in this passage was incredibly wealthy. He lacked nothing, and yearned for little. Well, except for what he could not buy, a ticket to heaven. Our study of the scripture today picks up when this man encounters God himself, seeking His direction on what he must do to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus turns the wealthy man’s world upside down. He explains to him, “There is nothing you can do to earn your way into heaven. You can try and uphold the law, and practice certain ‘good’ behaviors, but outside of a whole hearted pursuit of, and belief in Jesus Christ, there is no way to heaven.” So Jesus picks the area of the man’s heart He knows has not been surrendered… his finances. The wealthy man held nothing in higher esteem than his treasure, not even God. Jesus tells him to forgo this god in his life, and follow Him. Outside of following Jesus, there is no way to Heaven.
This passage of scripture can often be misinterpreted or taken out of context. Jesus is not saying to give up all of your possessions; quite frankly He doesn’t need them. Jesus wants you to give up your heart. He wants no competition for your love and devotion. So often, our finances can be the front lines of the battleground for our hearts, and it was Christ himself who said, “Where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.” (Luke 12:34)
Where is your treasure? Is your treasure in the hope found in the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ? Or is your hope in your job? Your paycheck? Your stock dividends? If you are struggling with idolizing money, pray to God today to soften your heart, and provide you with wisdom to start living a more selfless lifestyle.