This message is a follow up to my previous message from Luke 18:18-24 concerning a rich young ruler who rejected Christ because of covetousness. You will find that message under the SALVATION link. When this young man walked away, Jesus took the opportunity to warn His disciples concerning the sin of covetousness. Let me expand on that topic with you as we continue in Luke 18:24-30.
WEALTH IS NOT SINFUL
According to Deuteronomy 8:2-18 we learn that it is God who enables anyone to acquire wealth. Be warned, you who are rich. The God who enabled you to become wealthy can strip you of your wealth overnight. Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, just understand this one thing. You are wealthy only because God has enabled you to acquire it. Atheist, I dare you to dare God (whom you believe does not exist) to take away your wealth and your health!
King Solomon, a billionaire by our standards today, became wealthy only by God’s grace. When this young son of King David inherited the throne of Israel, he cried to God for wisdom and God answered his prayer, making him the wisest man of his times. Not only did God give him wisdom, but He also enabled him to become wealthy.
It’s too bad the story doesn’t stop there. Solomon blew his opportunities to be a blessing to Israel and to the world. He ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines “who turned away his heart after other gods”. From being the wisest man who ever lived, he became one of the greatest fools who ever lived.
No, wealth is not sinful. According to I Timothy 6:17 “God gives us richly all thing to enjoy.” Wealth is not sinful. It is covetousness that is sinful. In fact, the last of the Ten Commandments warns us of the sin of covetousness. This sin is not limited only to the rich. The poor are every bit as covetous as the wealthy.
You remember, the rich young ruler, when faced with a choice between following Christ and continuing to covet wealth, chose his wealth and walked away from Jesus.
As a result of his decision, Jesus speaks to His disciples about covetousness. You’ll find that conversation in Matthew 19:23-30, Mark 10:23-31 and Luke 18:24-30.
COVETOUSNESS CAN KEEP US FROM SALVATION
In these passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus is not teaching us that we must be sinless before we can come to Him for salvation. That would be an impossible qualification, for all of us are sinners. Rather, He is teaching us we must hate our sin enough to turn away from it and trust Him. Repentance is not being sorry about our sins because we got caught. It is hating our sins which are so vile in the sight of God that He sent His Son, Jesus into the world to die and pay the death penalty for them. Repentance is being so sorry about our sins that we turn from them to Christ to save us.
IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOR RICH PEOPLE TO BE SAVED
Abraham and Job are two examples of rich men who trusted in God’s provision for salvation. In fact, salvation is promised to Abraham through his Seed, His progeny, the Lord Jesus Christ. The major passages that explain this are Romans 4 and Galatians 3. For a study on this, go to my series in Galatians under the link, FREEDOM. Abraham, Job and other wealthy Bible characters, though not perfect, lived righteous lives as they trusted in God to save them.
Though it is not impossible for rich people to be saved, it is difficult for them. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 18:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” What on earth was Jesus talking about? Certainly not the eye of a literal needle that we use to sew material. Rather, He was referring to the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem, a small gate also known as the Needle’s Eye, through which a camel could not enter without being unloaded and going through on his knees.
WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR RICH PEOPLE TO BE SAVED?
The wealthy tend to trust their riches, rather than Christ as their chief purpose and joy in life. The sorrow of the rich young ruler was not over his sins; rather, his sorrow and sadness came by rejecting Christ. I can’t imagine the sadness and sorrow that follows those through life who knowing Christ and the Gospel, turn their backs on Him and walk away. That sorrow follows them and haunts them all the way to their death bed.
Oh, they may attempt to drown out their sorrows by attempting to live a carefree life of sin, but nothing satisfies a Christ-rejecter.
One day, they will face death and hell, as did the rich farmer of Luke 12:16-21 and as did the rich man who story is found in Luke 16:19-26.
THE DANGERS OF RICHES
Though wealth in the right hands can be used to bless others; in the hands of the covetous, they are dangerous.
1. The deceitfulness of riches can choke out the Word of God so that one does not even have a desire to listen to the preaching of God’s Word. Matthew 13:22
2. The rich Christ-rejecters grow more wicked. Psalm 52:7
3. The rich walk in slippery places headed for destruction. Psalm 73 In this Psalm David begins to understand the foolishness of envying the rich.
4. Riches cannot save us. You can’t bribe God with money. Salvation comes only through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. I Peter 1:18-19
CHRISTIAN, DON’T ALLOW RICHES TO KEEP YOU FROM SERVING GOD.
In Luke 18:28-30 and Mark 10:28-30 Peter asks Jesus if it pays to serve Him. Jesus answers that it pays not only in this life, but it pays in eternity a hundred fold!
In this passage Jesus challenges us to put Him before our parents, our wife and our children. He is not teaching that we are to forsake our responsibilities to our families. Rather He is teaching that we must not excuse ourselves from serving Him because of our responsibilities to our families. The man who puts Christ first in his life will be a better husband and father. The obedient Christian will treat his parents more kindly and with respect, but he will not allow them to hinder him from doing what God has called him to do.
Parents, don’t try to hold on to your grown son or daughter who wants to serve the Lord. Give them up to God’s will and He will bless you 100 fold.
IT COSTS TO SERVE JESUS
Paul writes about that sacrifice in II Corinthians 11:23-30 God teaches the obedient Christian how to handle sacrifice and sometimes poverty gracefully and with joy. Read how Paul rejoiced in his sacrificial service. Philippians 4:10-19
If God is speaking to you about serving Him, weigh the cost of that sacrifice carefully as Moses did, as recorded in Hebrews 11:24-27.
THE SECRET TO VICTORY OVER COVETOUSNESS
Give your heart and life to Christ as the Macedonian Christians did, as recorded in II Corinthians 8:1-5 Live sacrificially and invest in the Lord’s work until it stops hurting. In II Corinthians 9:6-7 it tells us that these poor Christians gave cheerfully, better translated, “Hilariously!”