Summary: You will never know financial freedom until you realize that financial freedom is a matter of heart. Seek God first. Serve God first. Put God first and money will serve you. If not, you will always be a slave to money
Two Irishmen who were traveling in the Holy Land came to the Sea of Galilee. They discovered that it would cost them $50 each to cross the lake by boat. They cried out in protest. "The Lakes of Killarney are the most beautiful lakes in the world and one can cross them for a few shillings." The guide explained: "Oh, but this is the lake Jesus walked on!" The Irishman quickly retorted: "Small wonder, at the prices you charge for taking a boat." We know alot about rising prices these days. It’s seems that just about everywhere you look, it’s much more expensive to live, eat, travel and play these days. We’ve been reminded how important money is to just about everything we do. In fact, you can’t do anything without money.
Jesus knew how important money is in every day life but also in our spiritual journey too. About half of Jesus’ teachings, 16 of 38 parables, were on money or possessions. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. I believe that money is not only one of the greatest areas of stress in our lives but also one of the greatest areas of bondage for God’s people. In our culture today, the whole area of money management is a burden for many people. It is one of the primary causes of arguments in marriage and 70% of divorce is caused by frustrations related to money.
Today’s scripture is the story of the rich young ruler, a man probably in his 20’s or 30’s who had every convenience one could want as well as position and influence in society. The rich young ruler has often been maligned throughout the centuries but the fact is he did a lot of things right. Warren Wiersbe says, “The rich young ruler came to the right person, showed the right attitude, asked the right question, received the right answer, but made the wrong response!“
He was seeking the right goal in life. This young rich man approaches Jesus with a genuine question about eternal life. “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” He didn’t ask about increasing his wealth. He didn’t ask about increasing his political position or job. He didn’t ask about perfecting his business sense or craftiness. Instead, he asked about God and relationship to Him. Now this is a man who is seeking the main thing. Too often in life we major in the minor things and minor in the major things. We are concerned with our jobs, our family, our material possessions, our bank statements and then, oh yeah, we’re concerned about God. But this man wanted to know about relationship with God! The young man asks about eternal life. Eternal life is about quality of life. This rich young ruler understood that quality of life is not tied to the amount of time you have or the quantity of your possessions but your relationship to God. He started right as he understood that quality of life is tied to your devotion to God.
This man had followed all of the commandments and done all that God had asked him to do and yet still feels something lacking in his life. He felt an emptiness, an unquenched thirst and a desire for something more. He still felt distanced from God. So he asks what else he might do. Jesus answers, "If you wish to be perfect . . ." Perfect means complete. John Wesley understood that perfection was being totally in line with God’s will. If you wish to be in line with God and connected to Him in all things, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor…” And so the question becomes not if you desire to have God in your life or to be connected to Him but how much you desire for your life to be in line with God.
A young student went to his spiritual teacher and asked, "Master, how can I truly be connected to God?" The teacher took the student to a nearby river and invited him to go into water. When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, "Please immerse yourself in the water." The student did and immediately the teacher put his hands on the young man’s head and held him under water. The student began to struggle. The Master kept holding him under. Moments passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under water. Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air. When the student finally got enough air, he screamed, Why did you do that? The teacher answered, "When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed -- then you shall find Him and be connected to Him."