It’s Hard Being Rich

It’s Hard to be Rich       (Matt. 19:23-26)              *Verses in NKJV*

“…it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

– “Rich” is a relative term depending on context:

         – Ex: Me envious of what the USMC Captain got paid… twice as much as me.

– Ex: Giving a money blessing to the house church in India (2000 rupees =$25) told too much money in the offering could be a temptation for the church leader… Oops.

– Ex: 1997, Mike Tyson vs Holyfield rematch fight, got a $30mil check before fight even happened, dented 350k Lambo then gave it to the security guard, spent 800k in the casino Versace store, so spent 1.15mil in 90 minutes… Tyson had made $400mil in his 20 year career, but still ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2003, $23mil in debt…

– More money, more problems, I guess.

– Last week Pastor Kevin talked about the rich young ruler who asked Jesus the way to eternal life.

– Jesus told the man to sell all of his possession, give it to the poor, and come and follow him.

– The rich man couldn’t do it, and went away sad because he had a lot of possessions.

Matthew 19:23-26, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to 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.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

#1. What does it mean to “be rich”?

– Wealth is relative to the context of your culture, and cost of living, …and 9.1% inflation!

– For Mike Tyson, spending $1mil over lunch was nothing, but the thought of losing his boxing career got him biting off people’s ears. (He has to provide for his kids, right?)

– I guarantee that if YOU had “Mike Tyson money”, you wouldn’t be worried about gas prices.

– 80% of the World’s population (6.1 billion people) live on less than $10 dollars a day. ($300 p/mo). 2 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water, 800mil regularly go to bed hungry.

– If they had what you currently have, they would feel like they had “Mike Tyson money”.

– It’s not the money, it’s what the money represents: Comfort. Safety. Security. All needs are met. These are things we should be turning to the Lord to give us.

Being rich is hard because it is an idol that easily replaces the need for God in your life.

– Wealth is a safety blanket for some that takes away fear… except for the fear of losing their money.

– Don’t look down your nose at the rich young ruler who walked away from following Jesus, because he couldn’t give up his many possessions. Could YOU do it now, if Jesus required it of you?!

– My point is that you and I fit into the story as “rich”. Jesus and the Bible are talking to US!

Matt. 19:23, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 

1 Tim 6:9-10, But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

– Even to a point I had to be careful sharing my wealth with the Indian house church.

1 Tim 6:17, Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

– It’s not about how much money you have. It is about your heart condition.

Matt 6:19-21, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

– Being rich is not the problem. Allowing the money to become an idol, and the temptation it brings to replace God in your life, is what can keep you out of the Kingdom of God.

– What’s YOUR coveted Idol? If you’d approached Jesus, what would he have asked you to give up?

#2. What did Jesus mean by the camel and the needle?

Matt. 19:24-25, And again I say to 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.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”

– The verse seems to imply that you must be poor to make it in the Kingdom of God (which represents salvation), and that idea is something many people want to ignore or explain away.

Scholars give a few explanations and theories…

1. The eye of the needle was a small gate in the wall, or possibly a small gate within the large main gate. This was human-sized, and a camel would have to be unloaded, or crawl on its knees… but there is no historical evidence of a gate like this being called the “eye of a needle”.

(Meaning: The rich man needs to unburden himself from material things, and remove the weight that holds him down… Maybe get on his knees and humble himself… that’s all Jesus meant.)

2. The Aramaic word for “camel”, also means “a large rope and a beam”, so it depends on the context in which it is used. In this context it would have been a rope through a larger wood piece referred to commonly as a needle. The rope analogy simply meant that it had to be unwound to pass through the eye of a needle.

(The rich man needs to untie all the knots in the rope of his life. Unwind, get back to the basics.)

3. There are other common sayings that are similar to this, and Jesus was probably just using a version of one of these. The phrase was poorly translated from the Greek, not intended to be the literal interpretation.

(It is a dangerous slippery slope when you begin to question the accuracy of the Bible in order for you to make sense of what it actually says! Don’t make the bible conform to your understanding.)

The problem is: All of these are trying to explain away, or minimize, the significance of the hyperbole that Jesus is using. Basically saying, “He didn’t really mean it to be so limiting”.

– These explanations make it hard and inconvenient, but also “possible”, and I believe Jesus is using an example that would be “impossible” for a reason.

– To explain this hard sentence away it to miss the entire point… Jesus is talking about salvation, and goes on to say with man this is impossible, but with god it is possible.

– Why then, would he use an example that was possible for those who work hard, or are gifted, or can afford the sacrifice? Why would the disciples be so flabbergasted by what Jesus was saying if it was a simple matter or putting in a little more-hard work or sacrifice, to make it on your own?

– I think that often scholars come to the scriptures trying to pick apart every word, looking at it from an intellectual point of view, and miss the forest for the trees. It’s not that difficult!

– Minimizing this analogy also minimizes God’s all-powerful nature. The verse says it is hard, but not impossible. But the illustration is supposed to be “impossible” …without God.

That is the whole point of this! All things are possible with God, and this also highlights how salvation “entering the Kingdom” is not possible without God… for anybody.

Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

– There is no back door to Heaven. You can’t earn it, can’t sacrifice more or work harder, not on your own strength, or position, or authority, or stature… and you certainly don’t deserve it!

– Our right standing before God is through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That’s it!

Example: The rich young ruler reminds me of those raised in the church, who “don’t have a past”.

– The young man knew to go to Jesus for the truth, respected him as teacher, had followed all the commandments from his youth… He may have believed he was already “good”. (Maybe just looking for Jesus to confirm it for him.)

– This is the low-key trap that those who have grown up in the church could fall into.

– The sins of pride and self-reliance are equally offensive to God, and sometimes harder to recognize in ourselves.

– Self-reflection should be done by all of us, to root out those secret sins that we may not be fully aware of. This is not just something “those with bad pasts” do.

– This can be your prayer: Psalms 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

– When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”

#3. All things possible with God!

Matt. 19:26, But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Jeremiah 32:17, Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

– With God, “all things are possible”, which is true in every area of our lives, but remember that he is referring specifically to salvation here.

– You can’t be good enough. Salvation and righteousness are only possible through Jesus.

Eph. 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

– Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

– prayer –

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