Sunday, 11 October 2015

ABOUT BEING RICH

The reading in church today was from Mark 10:17-27.

I’m sure you know the story about the rich man who was told by Jesus to sell everything he had, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus.

The man just could not do this, and went away sad.

Jesus also says that famous saying about it being harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

And people have been debating that hyperbole for years. What did it mean? Did Jesus refer to a gate called Needle, or was it a mountain pass which was so narrow you had to unload your camel of what it was carrying, pass the camel through, and then load it again.

It really doesn't matter. What matters is what Jesus meant in what He said to the rich man.

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. All these would have been left with nothing if the rich man followed Christ's advice to the letter.

So what is Jesus really saying then?

I doubt very much if every rich man on earth sold all their property and gave it to the poor that it would make any difference. It would be like putting a snowflake in a burning furnace.

Anyway, it is not physically possible, since if every rich person sold their property, by implication, they would sell it to someone else who would in turn be rich in order to be able to buy it. I’m sure you follow the tautology.

So what did Jesus mean?

He certainly was not speaking against wealth. Wealth creates wealth. It creates jobs and it creates the wherewithal to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

Christ condones, nay encourages, the creation of wealth in His parable about the servants given a gold coin each by their master. When he returned from his travels the master discovered that two servants managed to make their fortune increase whilst the third just didn’t bother. So he rewards the hard-working servants and punishes the other. Luke 19:11-27.

In this story about the rich man Jesus was teaching responsible wealth. There’s nothing wrong in working hard and amassing a fortune honestly. As long as we use it responsibly.

Those who are fortunate to have wealth should remember their responsibility to share it with others, and to help others, as best they can. This doesn’t mean sell everything and give it to the poor. It means be aware of those around you who are less fortunate than yourself; and share your good fortune with them.

If you were to sell everything then once it's gone, it's gone - you can no longer help the poor and you may well become poor yourself. What's so clever about that?


In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) Jesus does not condemn the rich man for being rich; but for not even realizing, never mind caring, for a poor man starving at his gate.

So there you have it: work hard, be wealthy, but remember others less well-off than yourself.

And wealth does not necessarily mean riches and money.

Some people are wealthy in different ways: wealthy in wisdom and knowledge, wealthy in health and stamina, wealthy in talents and so on.

Those amongst us who are well educated and knowledgeable should not look down on others haughtily and with disdain. Use your knowledge to teach others.

Those who are fortunate to be healthy should remember the sick and if possible visit them or help them as best they can.

Those with talents for music, the arts, sports or whatever should share their talents with others. Imagine the good you can achieve as a sportsman if you visit a school and share a few moments coaching children in whatever it is you do. Or if a musician or celebrity shared a few moments with less talented yet aspiring youngsters. That visit would be imprinted on young memories for life – and may well inspire them to do better and achieve more.

Let’s all look at ourselves deeply and discover what wealth God has given us.

Money, good health, a talent for music, painting, singing or whatever … and let’s share it for the glory of, and in thanksgiving to, God our Creator.  

8 comments:

  1. Awesome post, Victor! GOD bless you!

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    1. Thank you so much Tai. This particular story from the Bible is so often miss-understood.

      God bless you and your family.

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  2. I think Jesus was speaking of the condition of our heart and what gods we worship. Simply put--do we put ANYTHING before him--including money. This always stirs a great deal of soul searching in me---
    Blessings, Victor!

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    1. You're so right Lulu. It is a difficult subject, often missunderstood, and requiring soul searching.

      God bless.

      Delete
  3. Hi Victor, I'm not well enough today to leave a coherent comment, so, my sweet husband wrote one. This is from him. Hope your day is blessed. ~:)

    ---

    The answer lies in the response of his disciples in verse 25

    The Rich Young Man
    …23And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?"…

    "Then WHO can be saved" is the response and it is key to understanding this message. It is obvious that his disciples were saddened and knew their own condition was no different than the rich man. God had a plan for the salvation of all men apart from the Law of Moses, which had condemned all men to death, but the time was not right for God's plan to be revealed. That plan was the sacrifice of Christ, the only man without sin, on the cross at Calvary. Without Christ's payment for our sin no man would receive salvation regardless his good works. Even the smallest sin is unacceptable to our Holy God but Christ on the cross was a satisfaction for our iniquity and set us free of the sentence of death and of the Law. After all, the Law was given not to bring us to salvation but to bring all men in guilty before God. By trusting in the finished work of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus and that he was raised from the dead by the power of God, we have salvation that we are incapable of acquiring apart from Christ our Lord. St Paul through divine inspiration later explains this mystery that confounded the disciples in Ephesians 2:8-…7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.…

    I believe that this is the proper message to learn here.

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    1. Hello Sparky's husband, and Sparky too.

      First of all, I am praying for you Sparky, that you may be better soon.

      Thank you Sparky's husband for your interpretation of this passage. I think you are correct, it is through Christ's sacrifice that wer are all saved. God's invitation to love Him as He loves us is open to all, through Christ's sacrifice, in His death and Resurrection. The thing is ... elsewhere Jesus says: "Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do." Matthew 7:21

      Also, as quoted above in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus He does teach us to look after those less well off than us. And His commandment is to love one another; even our enemies.

      These sayings are sometimes mistaken to mean that through our works we enter Heaven. But I feel it's not so. We are all invited to enter Heaven, yet, through our lack of love for one another, our lack of caring, we exclude oursel;ves from Heaven.

      As James said: "My brothers and sisters, what good is it for people to say that they have faith if their actions do not prove it? Can that faith save them? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!” — if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead." James 2:14-17.

      Thank you Sparky's husband and Sparky. God bless you both.

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  4. I remember a teacher explaining this reading to me once, and compared the "camel and needle's eye" to some of the exaggerations we make today. We exaggerate all the time for effect - and Jesus was likely doing the same thing. What would people 2000 years from now think if they read one of our tweets or facebook posts that said "I am so hungry I could eat a horse!" ?

    Your post is an excellent lesson on this reading, so thank you for this!

    God Bless you.

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    1. Yes that's true, Michael. Jesus could have been speaking in a figure of speech.

      God bless.

      Delete

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