Posts Tagged ‘Possessions’

 

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Under New Management © Image created with Blender and Paint.net by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:24-26 – WHAT DO I GIVE UP TO FOLLOW CHRIST?

Jesus tells the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT). 

All his possessions? Is Jesus trying to say that the idea of treasure in heaven rather than riches on earth gives me a greater perspective concerning my money? How do I define rich?

The reward of following Him is invaluable so I don’t want to get this wrong.

In Matthew 19:24 (NLT) Jesus makes an outrageous statement. He says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  

So, it is impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! The rich young ruler was not willing to choose between riches and following Christ. He was a good living man but eternal riches weren’t as appealing as the earthly kind.

So, no-one who follows Christ can be rich, according to Jesus? 

In Matthew 19:25, 26 (NLT) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 

Why are the disciples astounded? Apparently, they presume that riches equate with the blessings of God and therefore it would be easier, in their way of thinking, for a rich man to be saved. A good living person like the rich young ruler seems like the perfect candidate for salvation.

Jesus looks at them intently and says, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).

Finally, there’s hope for you who are rich! Jesus says it’s impossible for a rich man to be saved, but adds that with God, everything is possible. He deals with human impossibilities. It doesn’t depend on us but upon Him.

Riches should speak of possibility but they are often a liability, depending on whether you submit your life to Christ or not. Those who are in the Kingdom of God ie those who have come under the authority of Christ as King of kings, see the possibility for using riches for the purposes of God for every aspect of life. Those who are not in the Kingdom of God ie who have not come under the authority of Christ, can be consumed by the love of money for more selfish pursuits and sometimes damaging purposes, devoid of the wisdom and direction of God.

Do I have to give away everything to the poor in order to follow Christ? 

No. But when I submit everything I have to His rulership, I am willing to do all He desires with whatever there is in my life for His purposes. What He asks of me may be quite different to what He asks of you.

Coming to Christ means recognising that you have nothing to offer God. You come to him without merit. Despite outward riches and even a good life, our sin has left us destitute. We come to God with empty hands to be saved by grace.

So, the invitation of Matthew 19:24-26 is to do with the Kingdom of God, i.e. It is an invitation to come under the authority of Christ as King of kings and obey His commands concerning your riches, status, abilities and talents, gifting, experience, heart motivations, personality etc. That’s the point! That’s the invitation.  Everything I possess and all that I am is Under New Management.

Submission of everything in our lives to Christ (coming under His Kingdom authority) leaves us in a place where we can receive the grace of God and be saved. Boasting in any way that somehow we had something to do with it is not an option. It comes from Christ alone. It is based on what He has done on the Cross, not on what we bring to the table. 

What do I give up to follow Christ? Everything. It is in giving up our trust in ourselves and instead, submitting ourselves to Christ that we find the truest riches and live life to the full. 

Pastor Ross

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Eternity © By Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:20-21 – WHAT ELSE MUST I DO TO GET TO HEAVEN? – Part 4

The day was beautiful outside but the hospital ward was dark and crowded as I spoke to June. She told me that she had lived a good life but asked how could she be certain that it would be enough to have eternal life.

In Matthew 19:21 The rich young ruler, like June, comes to discover some answers about eternal life. In his own way of thinking, the young man has kept all the commandments. He says, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments. What else must I do?(Matthew 19:20 NLT).He knows that somehow, despite keeping the commandments, he has fallen short of eternal life.

If I had been a disciple I would have interrupted this young man’s assertion and repeated parts of the Sermon on the Mount, since this rich young man does not see that even his attitudes and thoughts are important (see Matthew 5). He doesn’t understand that no-one can keep the commandments perfectly. But unlike me wanting simply to prove a point, Jesus wants to do everything possible to lead this young man to eternal life.

Mark 10:21 (NLT) says, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”

The young man is confident about his own righteousness but not about eternal life.There is an intuitive awareness that eternal life eludes him which elicited this question in the first place to Jesus.

WHAT USE ARE THE 10 COMMANDMENTS?

Paul the Apostle, also a man of authority in his life before he knew Christ, discovered the truth about the commandments when he said in Romans 7:7-12 NLT, “In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” … the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.”

If keeping the commandments is not enough to guarantee me a place in heaven, what else must I do?

Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

Here’s the chance for this young man to be the 13th Disciple of Jesus!

Why does Jesus say, “If you want to be perfect?”Doesn’t this contradict what He has just told the young man about only God being good? Why does He choose generosity as a means of obtaining eternal life?How is perfection based on selling possessions? Or is it the last part of his direction that is the most important –following Jesus?

1 John 3:16-20 says it well, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?…Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, … “

Was Jesus touching a raw nerve and knew that this rich young man could not follow Him wholeheartedly without divesting himself of that which he worshiped above eternal life – riches?

When confronted, the rich young ruler’s attitude proves to be selfish. Possessions are more important to him than following Christ.

DO I HAVE TO SELL EVERYTHING I HAVE AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?

Is Jesus introducing a new commandment? Is selling everything I have and giving it to the poor now the criteria of eternal life? I don’t think so. Nowhere else in the Bible are we told to sell all we have in order to follow Christ.

For the rich young ruler, riches stood in the way of receiving eternal life because he chose to follow them rather than Christ. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Are you willing to allow riches to be used for My purposes as a servant in your life, rather than allowing them to rule over your life?”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN YOUR LIFE?

The invitation Christ gives us is perhaps best expressed in these questions, “What takes first place in your life? Are you willing to give this up in order to follow Christ wholeheartedly?” The cost of authentic faith for you will be quite different to the cost of authentic faith for me. All of us repent in order to follow Christ. All of us turn away from something in order to turn toward Christ. What does that mean for you? (Continued in Part 5)

Pastor Ross