The Difficulty With Riches (19:16-26)
INTRODUCTION 1. A well known story in the life of Jesus involves His interview with a rich young ruler - Mt 19:16-26; Lk 18:18-27 2. In this story we find a man who was so right, yet wrong... a. He came to the right person - Mt 19:16 1) He came to Jesus 2) Who could tell Him the way to eternal life b. He asked the right questions - Mt 19:16b,20 1) "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" 2) "What do I still lack?" c. He certainly received the right answers - Mt 19:17-19,21 1) "...if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (suitable for one living under the OT covenant) 2) "If you want to be perfect, go, sell...give to the poor...and come, follow Me" (fitting for one who would become a disciple and follow Jesus during His ministry) d. But in the end, he made the wrong decision - Mt 19:22 1) He went away sorrowful 2) For he had great possessions 3. As rich young ruler went away sadly, Jesus told His disciples about the difficulty of riches... a. That it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God - Mt 19:23 b. That it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle - Mt 19:24 4. What is it about being rich that makes salvation so difficult? a. Are we aware of the dangers of riches? b. Do we understand the proper attitudes toward wealth, whether we are rich or poor? [Let's first consider...] I. THE DIFFICULTY WITH RICHES A. THE ABSORBING INTEREST OF RICHES... 1. Riches do not satisfy, and we foolishly think that simply more riches will bring satisfaction - cf. Ec 1:8; 5:10 2. With riches comes the preoccupation with them: how to use, maintain, store, etc. -- Like a black hole, the accumulation of riches can absorb what time and energy we have so that we have little for anything else (such as family, church, the Lord) B. THE DECEITFUL PROMISE OF RICHES... 1. Jesus warned about the deceitfulness of riches - Mt 13:22 2. Riches promise much, but really offer little in return a. They can easily disappear, rust, or be stolen - Pr 23:5;Mt 6:19 b. They cannot buy one's salvation - Ps 49:6-9,16-20 c. Neither can they protect one from God's wrath - Zeph 1:18 -- Riches can deceive one into thinking they are in need of nothing; the parable of the rich fool illustrates the folly of such thinking - Lk 12:16-21 C. THE FOOLISH PRIDE OF RICHES... 1. Wealth tends to promote a sense of arrogance and pride - cf. Deut 8:11-17 2. It was such pride that was the downfall of Sodom and Israel - Ezek 16:49-50; Hos 13:4-6 -- Blinded by such pride, one will not seek God - Ps 10:4 D. THE HARDENING SELFISHNESS OF RICHES... 1. The wealthy, while in a position to help others, often close up their hearts to the cry of the poor 2. This was one of Israel's sins - Am 2:6; 5:11-12; 8:4-6 -- Abusing the poor to make money, failing to respond to their cries for justice, interested more in money than the welfare of the poor...such are problems that often afflict the rich [Certainly not all who are rich are guilty of such things. Some of the most godly people in the Bible were rich (Job, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon, Barnabas, Philemon, Lydia). But these are reasons why it is so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. If they let mammon become their god, they will not be willing to serve the true God! (cf.Mt 6:24) From what we have seen about the danger of wealth, let's now draw some...] II. LESSONS GLEANED FROM THE DIFFICULTY OF RICHES A. THE FOLLY OF COVETOUSNESS... 1. Why be so anxious to be rich, when riches might prove to be a curse for us? 2. Besides, covetousness is viewed by God as a form of idolatry - Ep 5:5; Col 3:5 3. It not a sin to be rich, but the desire to be rich is wrong a. Those who desire to be rich will fall into temptation, and not go unpunished - 1Ti 6:9; Pr 28:20 b. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil - 1Ti 6:10 1) For which some have strayed from the faith 2) And suffered many sorrows B. THE DUTY OF CONTENTMENT... 1. Contentment along with godliness is true wealth - 1Ti 6:6-7 a. "He is richest who is content with the least." - Socrates (470-399 B.C.) b. "Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants" - Croft M. Pentz (The Complete Book of Zingers) 2. Contentment is a virtue that is learned - e.g., Php 4:11-12 a. By having a proper perspective on life - 1Ti 6:7 1) "You can't take it with you" 2) Ever see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer? b. By understanding what is truly essential in life - 1Ti 6:8 1) Food and clothing...anything more is a luxury 2) Realizing this, we will appreciate how blessed we are! 3. Therefore Christians are to be content with what things we have - He 13:5 C. THE NEED FOR SYMPATHY FOR THE RICH... 1. Jesus loved the rich young ruler - Mk 10:21 a. We should certainly love those who are rich b. We should not be envious, nor despise them 2. If the rich are overcome by their riches, we should bear in mind... a. That the desire to be rich affects both the rich and those who want to be rich b. That the rich face many temptations that the poor do not 3. The rich are in need of salvation as much as the poorest beggar - Ro 3:23; 6:23 D. FAITH IN THE POWER OF GOD... 1. Though it is hard for a rich person to be saved, it is not impossible - Mt 19:23-26 a. No one can save themselves, whether rich or poor b. But God can save the rich by His own power, through the gospel - Ro 1:16-17 2. There were many rich people who became Jesus' disciples a. Those that supported Him during His earthly ministry - Lk 8:1-3 b. Others such as Zaccheus, Matthew, Barnabas, Lydia, Aquila and Priscilla, Gaius, Philemon c. Such people used their riches in service to God and others - cf. 1Ti 6:17-19 3. Therefore... a. The rich should have the gospel preached to them b. We should pray for the rich c. We should rejoice greatly that there are rich men and women in the kingdom of God CONCLUSION 1. The issue of wealth and riches is often one of contention... a. The poor are often envious of the rich b. The rich often despise the poor 2. But riches and poverty both have their difficulties... a. Wealth can one make one arrogant, less receptive to the gospel and the kingdom b. Poverty can make one bitter, filled with envy of others 3. Whether rich or poor, we should all be aware... a. Of our need for salvation that comes only by the grace of God b. That we can share together in the riches of salvation Have you become an heir to the "unsearchable riches of Christ"?