Posts Tagged ‘Riches’

 

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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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Eye of the Needle © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:23-26 – KHALID, THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE, AND THE CAMELEER

“What if I am too late and the Cameleer will not see me?” Khalij the camel said absently to himself as he increased his pace. Sweat was beginning to seep through his hairy white hide but he still looked splendidly dressed for the journey and he knew he would be presentable for entrance into the city.

Was this the city and the Cameleer he was searching for? “Perhaps I am close”. Surely soon he would find rest. He felt the heavy load of the grain and valuable wares in his saddlebags as he ascended towards the city and Khalij knew he must arrive before sunset or the gates would be closed. Time was running out.

Passing many poor souls along the way who were also on a quest for entrance into the city, Khalij noticed they had scarce resources of food or water to continue their journey. A shabby, dirty looking donkey and lama approached him and begged him for food and water but he ignored their noisy requests. There was always someone who wanted his wares and although he had more than enough, he needed to hurry on. Not today. Best not to get involved.

On reaching the final approach to the gate, tired from the pace he had been keeping, Khalij saw another camel coming his way. His backpacks also were full and the colorful, intricately designed mat on his back laced with gold and indigo indicated he was of high station.

By this time he could see that the gate had been closed, and so Khalij greeted the camel and asked, “Where you not able to enter the city, brother camel?” The young camel looked down at the ground and continued on his way without a word. It was a little disconcerting to see the sadness in his eyes as he retreated down the road.

Khalij reached the locked gate and bellowed up to the walls but no-one came. Noticing a small hole in the huge gate, he looked through and was surprised to see a Cameleer approaching. Was this the Cameleer he had longed to find? “Cameleer”, he said, “I have come to see You. I have heard so much of Your city. What must I do to enter in?”

“What makes you think you are good enough to gain entrance to this holy city”, said The Cameleer.

“I assure you”, Khalij said confidently, “Since my childhood, I have been recognized as a leader among camels. As an albino camel, in all the lands where camels roam, I am considered rare and highly revered. I am dressed in the finest attire and bring with me valuable trade and items for sale.”

“But I detect that in your voice that there is still something missing from your life that brings you on your quest”, said the Cameleer.

“Yes, I am told that Your city will give me the answers concerning my destiny,” said Khalij, not giving away too much. Was this the Cameleer?

“To gain entrance you will need to come through this small door I have constructed just for you.” said the Cameleer. “You will need to follow my instructions carefully and it will be the most humbling experience of your life, but the choice is yours”.

Khalij looked as the Cameleer opened a small door. He had not noticed that this door was constructed within the larger gate.

“With all respect, I fear I shall not get through such a small door as this”, he said.

“The door was designed just for you, Khalij. I have been waiting for you. Come.”

When the Cameleer called him by name, there was something so compelling in the His voice that tentatively, Khalij began to move towards the doorway. He could see that he would need to bow down and then crawl through on his knees but the space was impossibly small; the eye of a needle. What if he were to get stuck half-way?

Bowing his head and crawling part way, he was prevented from making any further progress by his saddlebags.

Khalij said, “I cannot possibly get through without first setting down my saddlebags and then I fear my wares may be stolen by those behind me.”

“You have no need of saddlebags in My City, Khalij,” said the Cameleer. “Give your wares to the poor and come, follow Me. You will find rest and all the provisions you need for your soul.”

It was then that Khalij understood the sadness in the eyes of the rich young camel he had passed on the way. Such emptiness after so long a journey. He had gone away with riches but not rest for his soul.

Khalij thought for some time, trying to assess what would be the biggest decision of his life. He had come so far and he sensed that his quest was coming to a close. Must he also lose all for which he had worked for?

Within the deepest part of his being, he felt that somehow he could trust the Cameleer. With surprising relief, he threw off his saddlebags and began distributing his wares to the poor and hungry who gathered at the gate.

Then he faced the doorway. Once again he bowed his head and got to his knees, crawling towards the small opening. And then halfway through it happened. Suddenly he was stuck! He began to panic. Bellowing and twisting his neck, he tried to kick but his legs were pinned. In an ungainly stumbling crawl, he tried to back out and found, to his relief, it was easy. He must get out!

Khalij was almost out of the confined space that had trapped him when the Cameleer spoke softly and looked into Khalij’s eyes.“Khalij, come. Follow Me. This doorway was made for you. If you keep your eyes on Me and listen to My voice then you will enter the eternal city. I can open closed doors and make what you consider to be an impossibly small space an entrance. But the choice is yours.”

But this would take a miracle, Khalij thought. Gazing up at the Cameleer, Khalij was infused with what he could only call an irrational confidence and trust in the Cameleer. For some unknown reason, he decided to try once again. He inched his way, carefully listening to each instruction given by the Cameleer.

Inch by inch, he began to realize that it was as if this doorway was made only for him. It also occurred to him that the Cameleer was completely filling the Cameleer-sized place in his heart. It was a strange thought. “I am found in Him and He is alive in me”. Only in submitting himself to the Cameleer could progress be made. It would remind him constantly in the endless days ahead of what it meant to follow the Camelier.

“Your name was Khalij, meaning Gulf,” said the Cameleer, “because your wealth and status created a gulf between you and your relationship with Me. Now you shall be called Khalid, meaning Eternal,” said the Cameleer. “This name was always intended for you for I knew that one day you would come to Me, not without great difficulty, to find the eternal city and the door to eternal life.”

So Matthew 19:24 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!” 

Pastor Ross

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https://sharinginthelord.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/gods-my-best/

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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