Bible Society of South Africa

When possessions are too important – 13 September 2021

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

21Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”

22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was very rich.

Matthew 19:21-22GNBOpen in Bible reader

One would have liked to believe that every individual who met Jesus had a wonderful experience and a change of life for the good but not all meetings went that well. A meeting with Jesus always meant a definitive choice, either for him or in a direction away from him. The young man of our story went away from Jesus and he was sad. His own choice took him away from Jesus.

This young man started off with the wrong idea about Jesus and his teachings as we can see from his question. He recognised Jesus as a Rabbi or Teacher and therefore asked, “What good thing must I do to receive eternal life?” When we meet Jesus, our question should never be about what we can do but rather what Jesus can do.

Jesus gave the answer that would have made sense to a religious Jew, namely that he should keep the commandments and when he wanted to know which commandments, Jesus gave him a summary of the Ten Commandments. The young man was now on familiar ground as he had kept all the commandments and, according to the Jewish way of thinking, it was the way to eternal life. He had probably heard that Jesus taught something different and being a religious person, he wanted to know what that was.

Although he was quite sure that he had kept all the commandments, he still wanted assurance and asked, “What else do I need to do?” Yes, Jesus answered, you surely need something else but not because you do not have enough, to the contrary, because you have too much. You will have to get rid of your riches and then come and follow me. Jesus was not against the fact that he was rich but knew it would become a stumbling block on the road with him and that was exactly how it turned out.

A meeting with Jesus does not mean we have to sell all our possessions and live like paupers, but it does mean that nothing should come between us and the LORD.

Prayer: Dear LORD, we are all somehow attached to someone or something. Please help me to recognise at what stage that person or possession becomes so important that it may lead me away from you. Amen

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