The Bible records an encounter Jesus had with a man identified only as a “Rich Young Ruler”. This man realized that in spite of all he had…he was still lacking. He asked Jesus what more he had to do to gain eternal life. Jesus said:
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The rich young ruler went away with sorrow because he could not part with his worldly possessions. You can read the entire story in Matthew 19:16-22
On the surface, it may seem that the key to passing the “rich young ruler” test is the ability to give up ones possessions, however it isn’t that simple. The Rich Young Ruler wanted to be granted eternal life on his terms. He failed to realize an eternal plan for salvation was established and it involved putting the Lord first. The Bible says:
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Mt 6:24)
Does this mean Christians are supposed to forfeit their possessions? Not at all! But it is saying we are not to be a slave to it. We should not love our worldly possessions so much that we are not able to be a blessing to others. The love of God, not money should dictate our actions.
On the surface, it may seem the rich young ruler was given a strict requirement, but actually it is the same mandate that is given to all followers of Christ:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:34-36)
The Bible does not say that all Christians are mandated to sell all they have and give the proceeds to the poor. Luke 19:8-9 records the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector, that gave half of his possessions and received salvation. Also, when the woman broke her alabaster box and anointed Jesus she was harshly rebuked by the crowd saying she wasted oil that could have been given to the poor. However, Jesus told them to leave her alone and that she had done a beautiful thing (Mark 14:3-6). The Bible does not contradict itself. All of these encounters teach us the same thing:
- There is no amount or percentage of money that can be given to purchase salvation. In fact, the price for salvation has already been paid by Jesus on the cross.
- We are required to put God first. Give up anything that will get in the way of that!
Passing the “rich young ruler” test requires a heart check. Is there anything that you love more than God? Money? Your job? Friends? Will you let it go and follow HIM with your whole heart?