I wouldn’t consider myself rich. A working life spent in the media and ministry professions rarely leads to financial prosperity. The cost of living in Sydney also lightens the wallet significantly. I view myself as worse off than most around me, but is that really true? Have I a fair view of my finances? Have I a Godly view of my finances?
The rich young ruler
I find the interaction between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Luke chapter 18 one of the most relatable and challenging parts of the gospels. The man asks Jesus how he can secure a place for himself in heaven. Jesus responds by reminding the man about the commandments handed down by God to Moses, to which the ruler confidently professes keeping. Jesus then adds one final task.
“Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22
The ruler is sure he has kept all of God’s commands. However when Jesus asks the man to follow him, as a first priority, above all other things, he baulks. He shows he is unwilling to release his wealth. In doing so, he breaks the first of God’s commands.
“You shall have no other God’s before me.” Exodus 20:2
The rich young ruler’s wealth was his God. His idol was his fortune. His devotion was to his money. The rich young ruler was convinced he was good enough to meet God’s standard. Jesus showed him he could never be good enough. Jesus explains to the rich man, he needs to follow him. A task he was unwilling to complete.
Am I any different?
I don’t consider myself rich, but if Jesus was to ask me to get rid of all I had, would I still think the same?
Those of us living in the wealthy, western world, with food on our tables and money in bank accounts, are rich young rulers. We have far more than most. We are wealthy by almost anyone’s standards, expect our own.
I’m challenged to evaluate what my wealth means to me. Would I happily give it all away, if Jesus were to ask me? Would I prioritise Jesus above everything I own?
Jesus shouldn’t just be our top priority, he should be our only priority. The wealth we accumulate belongs to Jesus, and should be used for his purposes.
I’m challenging myself to let go. To let go of a desire for my own personal fortune. In doing so, in God’s goodness, earn treasure in heaven.
Liam Denny is a former radio journalist and newsreader, now working to bring the good new of Jesus to media workers in Sydney through the ‘Christians in the Media’ ministry. In his spare time, you’ll find him having coffee with his wife Jenny in cafes around Sydney’s inner west, playing sport and taking his dog for a swim in the harbour.
You can read his other work at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/liam-denny.html