Summary: Wealth is NOT in and of itself an indication of success
October 14, 2018
Does Wealth Equal Success?
Wealth is NOT in and of itself an indication of success. Frugality and/or poverty is NOT in and of itself an indication of the walk of a good Christian. Let’s delve deeply into today’s gospel reading to understand what I am trying to convey.
I don’t want to sound cynical here but, as we begin this reading, my opinion of this rich young man is instantly guarded.
Why do you say that pastor? Well, I’ll tell you. This guy comes running up to Jesus and kneels in front of him. That should be a sign of respect and worship, right? But then, he begins asking, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (verse 17) It sounds to me like this fellow is adept at putting on a show of false humility. He is starting off by “buttering up” the Teacher (“The Good Teacher” sic). Jesus saw right through this, didn’t He? Jesus responds “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God,” (verse 18).
Next Jesus reminds him of knowing and obeying the ten commandments. This young fellow answers without hesitation (or so it appears): “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
Again, pardon my cynicism, but I can just see and hear these words flowing like sweet syrup – O Teacher, what a good man I am! I have always been just a perfect, obedient follower.
Then, Our Lord says to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come and take up the cross, and follow me.” (verse 21) How did this young man respond? “And he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.” (verse 22)
It brings to mind an experience that I had years ago, as an associate pastor, in a large church. One of our members was a wealthy lady who was having surgery. I went to the hospital to pray for her before she went in. Her immediate response was, “Howard, I love you but where is pastor XXXXXX?” In other words – I am so rich and important that I demand the senior pastor to be here.
It is certainly not sinful to be wealthy! It is sinful to have wealth as the hallmark of one’s life. What is Jesus’ take on this?
“How hard it is for those who have riches 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” (verse 23&25)
Jesus next tells us that nothing is impossible for God. If a wealthy person does not put riches as a priority ahead of God and their walk and is submissive to God, certainly that person shall enter the kingdom of heaven.
Remember how we closed last week’s message/devotion: A self-made man worships his maker – a Godly man worships his Creator.
Now let me share a word about success. Success is NOT measured by possessions, wealth, or power. Success is measured by the extent of doing one’s best. Pastor, whatever do you mean? The best example that I can share is that of my son.
Danny was kicked in the head by a horse, when he was just a toddler. It left him with some mental impairment.
Danny is now in his fifties. He has always held a steady job and worked hard. He never married. Danny owns his own home, two vehicles and maintains a good Christian life. He always worked in jobs where he took care of inventory and stock. However, a few years ago, the local sheriff took notice of this hardworking man and asked him if he would be interested in working for the sheriff as a deputy and jailer. Danny took the job and has done very well.
Danny is more of a success than I am and more than many people that I know who exhibit all the trappings of what the world sees as success. If you run the race and win the blue ribbon or gold medal, but have not done your best, you are NOT a success. You may be the winner, but you are NOT a success. Success is doing your best – your very best – with what you have and what you are. The ironic thing is that only you and God actually KNOW if you are a success or not.
My encouragement today is that we take stock of our lifestyles and our Christian walk and self-assess how successful we really are.
Let us pray.