A rich young man had a question weighing on his mind. He asked Jesus what needed to be done to secure his place in the kingdom of heaven. The Lord kept it general in His initial answer. He said we receive eternal life by keeping God’s commands. Interestingly, the rich young man was dissatisfied with His response and kept prodding. “What else must I do?” he asked. Unfortunately the Lord’s reply to his follow-up question quickly ended the conversation (Matthew 19:21):
“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”
Matthew’s gospel describes how the young man went away sad – knowing he would not want to part from his many possessions. Probably unbeknownst to him His possessions possessed him.
We don’t need to be rich to share in a rich man’s worldview. The Messiah once said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. That’s a strong statement! Does this mean that God is partial to the poor and less accepting of rich people? I don’t think so. I believe the point is that self-sufficiency creates a lonely society. Our desire to be independent and run a one-man-show gets all of us into trouble and a rich person may have a harder time recognizing that. A rich man’s world is a cold and desperate place. God’s kingdom on the other hand is the place to be.
Christ preached the kingdom of God while He walked this earth. Jesus enriches us in every way so that we enrich others, similar to a river that originates in heaven and feeds the world. The trick is not to stop that river and thereby hijack the Lord’s flow of generosity. Don’t build a dam and try to keep everything to yourself. Let the river flow and pass on what God has given you.
We have received Christ and have given ourselves away. In the kingdom of heaven receiving and giving is a cycle that goes on in perpetuity. Everybody is rich in God’s world because we are all sold out. This is the spirit of generosity Jesus tried to impress on the rich young man – and it’s the same generous spirit that creates community and unity. We come together and praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow.