Summary: The rich young ruler and his decision to walk away from the call of Jesus shattered the disciple's beliefs about riches being an exclusive sign of favor with God. Money and possessions tend to be a hindrance to faith in Him instead.
A young man whom the Scriptures refer to as a "rich young ruler" came before Jesus with a question on how to obtain eternal life. After using the Law as a means of examining his motives, Jesus instructed him to go and sell all his possessions in order to receive spiritual treasure and then to follow Him. The ruler's motives were exposed by his refusal to obey the LORD'S direction. He loved his possessions more than his claim to love and obey God and walked away not into just obscurity, but possibly an eternity void of real peace and salvation that could have been his if he had but just bowed before Jesus and followed Him. Like many potential converts, his motives had been based on works and receiving a nod of approval from God for doing his best, rather than recognizing that there is no one good or who truly seeks after God (Romans 3:10-18). It is the LORD who provides salvation (Psalm 3:8, 68:20; Acts 4:12), forgiveness, and mercy out of His love for us even though we were His enemies (Romans 5;6-11). Redemption is only through Jesus Christ and Him alone (John 3:16, 14:6, 20:30-31; Romans 6:23).
After the young man departed, Jesus began to teach His disciples about the difficulty a lot of people have in entering the Kingdom of Heaven who are attached to their earthly riches and possessions and do not want to let them go even when it means missing the true riches of heaven and eternal life with the LORD. People tend to love the blessings God gives them, but neglect to love and honor Him for blessing them in the first place. This is why it is better for a lot of folks to not have a lot of "stuff", for the sheer fact that they cannot handle the responsibility of managing it wisely or consult the LORD for wisdom on how to use the blessings they have for His glory and use. Do you ever watch the "Christian" (so-called) programs where the slick "pulpit occupier" (certainly no true pastor as taught in 1 Timothy 3:1-8) will sweet talk their gullible audience into believing that God will give them riches and health because He is somehow obligated to do so or twist a verse of Scripture to back up their false teaching? People eat up this "salvation sales pitch" like they were at an multilevel marketing meeting or other pyramid scheme that promises everything and delivers nothing. Why? Do they not have enough "faith"? They have not planted a "seed" into the minister's work? Hardly likely.
Most people do not experience material blessing or any other act of grace from God for the sheer fact that they look to Him as some kind of "slot machine" that works with the right combination of prayer and deed without a personal conviction to repent of their sins and seek His face and direction. Too many people have a lack of love, awe, or reverence for the Sovereign God of All Creation and to worship Him for being the great and merciful LORD that He is by giving us what we need, not so much what we want. God will not bless anyone financially if they do not know how to maintain a budget, or run up credit card debt, or purchase things they really do not need but want for the status it shows or whatever reason they can originate or justify. He has blessed us with common sense to look and see whether we have the maturity and discipline to handle any more possessions or the responsibility that comes with increased stewardship, and to check ourselves as to whether we are truly in the faith or not (Luke 12:48; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 11:6).
The late pastor Dr. E.V. Hill once said in a sermon that God can, if He desires, reach down to you in your hour of need and without you even asking will say, "HERE!" Out of His abounding mercy and love, He can get you out of your situation, but the price is to obey and serve Him when that does occur. I am not saying that He leaves us to flop and panic like a fish out of water because we goof it up with our money or talents and tells us, "too bad". There are times when things get overwhelming and it looks like the sharks are about to eat you in spite of your best effort to keep the raft afloat. You've been thrifty and careful with what you have, but stuff happens, the bottom drops, and from all worldly viewpoints everything looks bleak. That happened to my family a few years ago and our trouble was not so much with money, but the fact that we were trying to solve our dilemmas in our own strength instead of having faith and trusting God to handle everything. For years my wife and I had been busting our backsides financially and other areas because we had the thought in our heads that God demanded that we help ourselves before He stepped in to help us. This mindset was certainly not founded upon Scripture even though we said we trusted Him. You can say a bunch of words and really not say anything worthwhile especially when it comes to authentic faith and belief. All too often we will claim that the LORD will see us through hard and trying times, but we also tend to keep a skeptical eye on things just in case we have to step in instead of really trusting Him like He tells us to do in His Word. We have all done it, no matter how long we say we have walked with Him. Let us be honest in that regard.