How Difficult is it for the Wealthy to Enter Heaven?

Mark 10: 17 – 31 – “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’…

Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.’ The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’… But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

As Jesus was headed to Jerusalem for His crucifixion he was met by a wealthy young man. He asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life”? Like so many today he believed that eternal life was something that had to be earned rather than the gift that Jesus had shared previously.

It is apparent that Jesus had great compassion for the young man. Mark paints a picture of a very sincere young man who was willing to do most anything to obtain it. However, when Jesus said to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor it exposed the one thing that will keep many out of heaven. It was his love for money and material things. His many assets had become his idol. Too often wealth determines who we are, what we have accomplished and the many successes we have had. He had broken the commandment that says we shall have no other God before me.

Jesus realized that the wealth was more important to the man than God. The selling of all his possessions, of course, would not earn or guarantee him eternal life. Being obedient, by selling, was only a step in becoming completely committed to becoming a follower of Christ. The young man went away sad because the price was just too high to pay.

Do we have any unrealized idols that we have put before our love of God that could possibly keep us out of heaven? Money is only one example. It could even be our life-style. Are there things that make us too self-sufficient?

Jesus continues with a Jewish proverb describing something that is impossible by using, “It is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.”

Like most of us the disciples were amazed and asked: “Who then can be saved?” As I have stated in a previous blog nothing in Scripture indicates that God opposes successful careers, wealth, position or the pursuit of personal interest, recreational or otherwise. What He does oppose are those who have a problem with humility, those refusing to be submissive to His will and our unwillingness to serve others. It is those who have hate in their heart, ones who refuse to forgive others and any not having a love for their neighbor. Jesus assured the disciples that what man could not do, nothing was impossible for God. Salvation is equally available to everyone. For it is by grace that we are saved through faith and it is not our doing. It is a gift from God.

Jesus ends by stating that those who are saved and have placed their wealth, talents and achievements between them and God may find little or no reward in heaven. Rewards in heaven are not given based on what we have gained on earth. Our rewards and what happens to us in heaven depends on our commitment to Christ, our love and service to others and where we have placed our treasures. Therefore, I believe we can conclude that it isn’t the wealth that makes it hard to enter heaven; it is what wealth can do to our attitude, motives and our character that can make it difficult.

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1 Comment

  1. Lu Bowen

     /  August 21, 2009

    3 years ago I was fortunate enough to go to Swaziland, Africa for my honeymoon to serve the orphans there. We thought we could be a blessing with the resources we have and all that money can buy here. Sparkly paint, paper, pencils, crayons, water color sets for the children, books and songs. The need was so great there that we were only a small drop in a huge bucket of need. I did a teacher’s art class with the teachers. It wasn’t what I was giving them with all our money and resources, it was what they gave me. There is a well of HOPE and JOY that can only be dipped from the well of great needs that they come from. Untouchable worship deep within themselves. They had fellowship I have never seen before. A Christian community of sharing and caring for one another…as I think the bible desires for us. I told the teachers “Do not want what we in America have, You have what we need.”
    I lived in extreme poverty as a teenager but our poverty doesn’t come close to their poverty. There is a fulfillment in looking at what we have and giving it to others. For me? Africa changed me forever. Although I have been conservative, I am more intentional, whether it is $1.00 or $1,000 it’s all God’s money. We are a rich country. We need to get over ourselves. I speak for myself as well.

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