Can the Rich Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (Luke 18:18, 19 NKJV)

Isn’t it interesting that the Son of God answers the ruler in this way? “Why do you call me good?” In other words, “no kudos for you just for calling me good.” This response demonstrates so clearly Jesus’ heart. He is His Father’s Son; however, His relationship means even more than that. He knows that He is to eventually die on the cross. Where does His salvation come from? God. All of Himself belongs to God and no one demonstrated this relationship better than Jesus.

Jesus goes on to tell the ruler the commandments of God. The ruler replies that he has kept God’s commandments. Up to this point, the man has lived a good life. Jesus’ next words are unexpected to the ruler though.

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For 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.” (Luke 18:22-25 NKJV)

The ruler has kept God’s commandments since he was young. The key here, in my opinion, is that the ruler is very comfortable on Earth. He has all that he needs; or at least all that he thinks he needs. Many of the other people that Jesus encounters in the scriptures are needy – they lack Earthly comfort and they desire God as their only comfort (everlasting life). This ruler was sorrowful when Jesus tells him to sell his belongings. God wants our hearts – our very being must belong to him. What drives us in our living each day? Treasures of this world or the next? Recognition in this world or the next?

Our heart is central to our relationship with God. It can be pulled in so many directions, and once it is set it is hard to change. Comfort can be deadly in this life. God wants us to be safe and taken care of (as shown in yesterday’s devotion). But, if we do not belong to God, but rather to ourselves, we do not know where our source of life, health and riches come from. Riches are not bad. God is the richest among us all. But, having what you need can cause a sickness of the heart – a lack of needing God, our creator.

In my opinion, the ruler had a golden opportunity presented to him – a personal invitation from Jesus Christ to follow Him and have eternal treasure and life in the Kingdom of Heaven. However, he belonged to his wealth – not to God.

No matter what circumstances we are in, commit yourself to God because nothing matters without Him. Can the rich enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Yes. But it becomes so much harder to guard your heart from belonging to your wealth. Jesus answered this question directly in a mighty way.

And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:26, 27 NKJV)

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