Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
“It will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” How hard to hear, especially in America where even the poorest of us are richer than 99% of the world. It just seems so unfair! But the truth of the matter is that God doesn’t want us to accumulate earthly riches (Matthew 6:19-21). Wouldn’t that money be better spent helping the poor? Why do you need a Lexus when other people don’t have food? Why do you need a $4 billion house when others live under tin roofs with only 2 or 3 walls? Why do you need designer clothes when children don’t have shoes? Why do you need a $3 bottle of water when people all over the world have no access to clean water? Stop buying useless crap! Stop letting your money accumulate in the savings account and use it to do good!
But even if you are only well off (“only”, ha!), we do tend to accumulate stuff. (Side note, how many times do you think I can use the word “accumulate” in the post? Worse, I have spelled it wrong EVERY SINGLE TIME.) And like the young man, we have a hard time giving stuff away. No that we necessarily have to give it away, but like I said before, we have to be willing to do so if called. I don’t need all my books, or all my DVDs. Is it sinful to have them? No, I don’t think so. But it is sinful for them to be more important to you than Heavenly treasures are. And the more stuff you have, the more attached you get. In my experience, anyway.
Jesus makes it perfectly clear. The ONLY way to Heaven is to drop everything and follow Him. If He calls you to do something, stop worrying about inconveniences and DO IT. If He asks you to give something away, don’t whine, just do it. Follow Him. Everything else is meaningless in comparison.
I’ve been thinking about what this means in terms of having a retirement savings account. I don’t know much about those things (I’m still putting off thinking about it for a few more years), but it seems like you have to have a LOT of money to retire in America. Like, millions. Especially with increasing life expectancy. Is it wrong to be saving all that money so you can be lazy in your old age? You could argue that you deserve retirement, or that you are going to volunteer, but let’s be honest, I’m probably going to sit around and watch TV or read a book a day, not make the world a better place. What if you get sick? You can’t work with Alzheimer’s, and you’ll have to pay for treatment and living space somehow. This is something I definitely need to think and pray about, and I would love to hear your thoughts.