Summary: Do we own our possessions or do our possessions own us?
Today’s message comes to us from Matthew chapter 19. It is the story of the rich young man who meets Jesus. It is about the things we value – our possessions. Right and wrong attitudes. Worldly and biblical attitudes. It is a story that starts with a question about how to obtain eternal life, and turns into a lesson on the potential power of possessions over mankind. As such, it has become one of those bible stories where the central character (in this case the rich man) serves as a warning about wrong perspectives that lead to misplaced priorities that result in bad choices.
So we are going to take a look at this story today, elaborate on it, follow it, and see what truths and practical ideas we can glean from it.
As I was preparing this message, I have to confess that it made me take a long hard look at my own priorities regarding the things I own and my attitudes toward them, and I hope it will do that for all of us this morning. I would like for us to begin today by reading Matthew Chapter 19 starting at verse 16. Feel free to follow along with me in your bibles as I read it. (Matthew 19:16-29.)
The Rich Young Man
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
18"Which ones?" the man inquired.
Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,'[d] and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'[e]"
20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, 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."
25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Let’s Pray (say prayer)
? Open our eyes and our hearts
? Help us to desire an understanding of your word that is more than surface level
? Thank you for your Son Jesus who suffered the pains of the cross to bring us to that which is true treasure – namely a relationship with you.
Ah… money and possessions! Money is an interesting thing, isn’t it? It will make many people do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do.
Recently the phenomenon of America’s love for money was documented in a book called “The Day America Told the Truth”. Americans were asked: “What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?”
The statistics are frightening:
? Would abandon their entire family (25%)
? Would abandon their church (25%)
? Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
? Would leave their spouses (16%)
? Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
? Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
? (some of you with children may be thinking that that 3% is bit LOW! :-)
But the point is… People are willing to do many things for money.
Today’s bible story illustrates a man who had a LOT of money.
Now there is nothing wrong with having possessions. They can be a great blessing from the Lord when handled properly (which we will get into momentarily). But in contrast to the prosperity theology preached by some televangelists claiming that God wants us to be happy with our worldly pursuits at ALL times AND have everything we want at ALL times, Jesus gives us an abrupt lesson today regarding our attitude towards those things we call OUR possessions.
So let’s step back into our scripture reading and begin to highlight some important points.
Near the beginning of this story, the rich man is asking what good thing he should do to obtain eternal life…. and we see Jesus’ response…
If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
18"Which ones?" the man inquired.
Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself."