Don’t it sometimes irks you when someone asks you for advice and when you give them your opinions they just ignore it.
Why do they do this? Is it because your advice is wrong, or bad? Or could it be that it is good advice but it is inconvenient for them to follow it? It just does not fit in with their plans, and what they really wanted was your approval to what they had on their mind; not your advice really.
Jesus had a similar problem one day.
He was approached by a rich young man who asked Him “what must I do to receive eternal life?”
Jesus advised him to sell all he has and to give the money to the poor; and then to come and follow Jesus.
On hearing this the man went away very sad; he was not willing to follow the advice given.
Let’s pause here for a minute and reflect. What would you have done?
Let’s assume God spoke to you right now, in a dream, or a vision, and you were certain it was Him speaking. Just as certain as Abraham, Moses, Noah, Mary and Joseph were when God spoke to them. You know where I’m getting to …
And God asked you to sell everything and give it to the poor, and become a missionary or a volunteer helper somewhere far off your community.
Would you be able to do it? Would you leave your spouse and family behind and follow Jesus wherever He asks you to go? Would you sell off everything you have, give up your job, leaving your children with nothing; and moved on to a new life?
On reflection, perhaps we sympathise a little with the rich man. For we know not whether he had a family, friends and servants who relied on him – although we can assume he had.
Jesus then went on to say: “I repeat: it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” Matthew 19:24.
So what is His message here?
Is Jesus condemning wealth? Is it wrong to work hard and amass a fortune? Of course not.
Jesus, knowing the rich man’s heart, is teaching us wealth with responsibility.
He is saying that those fortunate enough to have wealth have a duty to consider those around them who are less well off than themselves, and to help them as best they can.
Jesus makes this point most dramatically in the story about the rich man and Lazarus. It is worth reading in Luke 16:19.