Truth Taught- Riches are more of a hindrance than a help
for one who desires the Kingdom of God.
For the last chapter and a half or so, Jesus has been teaching on the Kingdom of God, on real greatness, and on childlike faith. We saw last time our Lord’s emphasis again surface as He was angry with His disciples for seeking to block the parents from bringing their infants and toddlers to Him to be blest by Him.
We have seen the example of childlike faith as Jesus lifted up a child as an illustration of Kingdom trust and dependance. There in that child Jesus taught us about what the Kingdom of God is like and who may enter into it. Those with self-reliance are not welcome into God’s Kingdom. Those who think they have their own righteousness are not welcome. Those who think their hard work and strict adherence to the traditions of man are not welcome. Those who are rich and think their money will bring them significance or who worship and trust in their wealth are not welcome.
That’s what our Lord is going to teach us today. Riches are more of a hindrance than a help for one who desires the Kingdom of God.
Jesus told His disciples that the great ones in the Kingdom of God were not the ones the world considers great but instead the ones who were humble servants that relied on God’s power not their own. Today we see a young man with much wealth. What’s not too surprising is that the disciples are falling all over themselves with joy. A rich man wants to know about eternal life. Let’s get out the decision cards and sign him up. Now we are finally getting somewhere a rich man wants to be part of us. Look out world, here we come! If ever there was a promising candidate for the Kingdom of God, here he is…young, seems moral, and best of all wealthy. What potential must be in this one!The disciples were wrong again. They will learn from this encounter that wealth and God’s Kingdom do not really go together at all. In fact, Jesus has already stated that money, possessions, mammon cannot be worshipped if one desires to worship God. There’s only room for one treasure in the human heart…so pick one, you cannot have both.
Also, in the background of our text today lies another text from Matthew’s Gospel…
Matthew 16:24–28 (ESV)
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Father, this is Your Word for us today. Give us understanding and equip us through Your Spirit to apply its truths so that we can glorify Your Son with our lives.
Matthew 19:16–22 (ESV)
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 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, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The Rich Desire to Add Eternal Life to Their Portfolio
1. The Rich Man Desires to Earn Eternal Life
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
So, Matthew sets up the brief but very powerful picture of this young rich man. This man is very wealthy with many possessions. He seems to be somewhat moral and yet he is greatly mistaken about eternal life. He thinks that by doing some great good deed he can earn eternal life. He is involved in a works salvation. He thinks that there is some good thing he can do which will obligate God to owe as payment to him, eternal life.Is there anything we can do that would then obligate God to give us eternal life? Of course not! We can’t earn salvation. We can’t earn eternal life. There are no good deeds we can do to earn salvation. The issue is that we are not good so a good deed is impossible for us.
Matthew 7:17–18 (ESV)
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
2. Obey God’s Commands
17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 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, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus surprises us. Here is the first surprise. Jesus answers the rich man with a question. Here His emphasis in the original is on Me. Today we may say it like this…of all the people, why do you ask Me about what is good?
Then, Jesus surprises us again. There is only One who is good…namely God.
So, Jesus is telling this rich man who wants to do some amazing good deed to work for eternal life that there is only One who is good and he, the rich man is not him. Only God is good. Why, then, if only God is good do you think you can do something good? Why do you think you are even capable of a good deed? Why would a good God ever owe you anything seeing that you’re not good and He is?
Then He surprises us again. Jesus tells this rich man to keep the commandments if he wants eternal life. We expect Jesus to say something like, you cannot earn salvation the way you gain eternal life is by repenting and believing in Me. That’s not what Jesus tells Him. Instead, He tells him to keep the commandments.
Which ones comes the reply.
Jesus gives him the commandments that deal with one’s behavior toward people. You might expect that Jesus would give him the ones dealing directly between this man and God but Jesus doesn’t do that. These are called the horizonal commands from the Decalogue, the ones dealing with people. Why does Jesus do this?
And Jesus said,
You shall not murder,
You shall not commit adultery,
You shall not steal,
You shall not bear false witness,
19 Honor your father and mother, and,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
All of these commands deal with other people and they can be readily observed. These are outward acts rather than inward.
You might think in this case, Jesus would have given him the do not covet commandment but He does not. The reason is that you could tell if this man was coveting or not. That is an internal command between him and God.
3. Riches are a Hindrance Not a Help
20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The first thing we must see here is this man’s arrogant claim that he has kept the commandments from his youth. We know and every clear-thinking person knows this is not the case. We know this from the Bible.
Romans 3:10–12 (ESV)
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Jesus doesn’t get into a debate with this man over the commandments or over his affirming that he has kept them. Jesus does have a simple test for this man who claims that he wants to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him that there is one thing you can do if you really do want to be perfect. Now, the word perfect here is teleios, which means complete or mature. The deed to be mature for this rich man, one that will be observable, clear and simple.
sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
Give all your wealth away and follow Me. The emphasis in the original is on follow Me. Before this rich man could truly inherit eternal life, he had to get rid of his other god so that he could be devoted to the true God.
Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Get rid of your other god and then come and follow Me, Jesus told him. This was a clear command from Christ that would immediately show his heart. This rich man did not really want to be mature. He really didn’t worship God at all and he definitely didn’t keep the commandments. He simply had a very thin ethical veneer on the surface so that he looked good to some but was not actually a child of God at all.
He loved, worshipped and found security in his riches not in God. He simply wanted his money and God so long as God didn’t get in the way. He wanted eternal life so long as it could be added to his life of wealth and pleasures on earth.
So, this man asked what one thing must I do to have eternal life and Jesus gave him one thing…exchange your god for the true God.
22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Here we are told the reason for his sorrow. Right then he learned a very valuable truth that we all must see. You cannot serve money and God. You cannot love money and love God. You cannot worship money and God. You cannot find security in money and God.
Jesus presented this rich man with a choice…love your money or love Me.
Why was he sorrowful? Notice the eternal twist here. He went away sorrowful because he was very rich. We are programmed to think money will buy us happiness. If I just had a little more then my happiness would increase proportionately. If I’m rich then I’ll be very happy.Jesus probed this man’s heart. He didn’t argue with him. He didn’t debate him about how God’s Law works or whether or not he has actually kept all the commandments he said he’s kept. He simply gave him one thing to do since that’s what he asked for and the one thing exposed his heart for all to see. This rich man’s request was a scam. He had silver, diamonds, great houses and property, gold and along with that, for when he died, he wanted to also add God. What can I do to please God? What can I do to have eternal life?
Get rid of your other god.
I cannot do that, is there anything else I can do? NO.
This rich man was lost and loved his money more than God. He proved Jesus right, you cannot love God and money.
In another place in the Bible we read about another rich man. This rich man was saved and did on his own what Jesus told the rich man in the message today.
Luke 19:1–10 (ESV)
19 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Is there anything that if God said get rid of it you would have to walk away sorrowful? Then that thing is your god and you cannot have both.
Matthew by Doriani
Matthew by France