The Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 19:23-30; Mark 10:23-31; Luke 18:24-30

The Danger of Possessions

We continue with yesterday’s account of the “Rich Young Ruler.”  My point then was that this young man is not a bad guy; he’s not a liar or thief or adulterer, or a number of other wicked things.  He’s a man who has done well for himself, worked hard, and made a life.  Most would have nothing but good to say about him.  We might even say that he has lived the “American Dream.”  We would congratulate him.

But there is a deeper longing in this man; the things that surround him aren’t providing him with the happiness he once thought they would.  Houses, lands, money, status, power – they all leave him empty.  He’s probably heard Jesus preach somewhere sometime, and his words struck a chord: “That’s it!  That’s what I’m missing.  If I could know that I shall enter the Kingdom of God – that’s all that is left for me to make my life complete.”  Yes, I’m putting words into this man’s mouth, but do they not seem to describe the state of this man’s mind and soul?

How many people think the Kingdom of God a nice add-on to their lives: Fame, riches, status, and, oh yes, a little of the Kingdom of God as well – sort of like going through the line at the cafeteria, taking some of this and a little bit of that.  Perhaps his heart was more sincere than I’m giving him credit; but still, the Kingdom was not worth what he had gained throughout his life.  For this man, the Kingdom of God is a tack on.

And as he walks away, Jesus says those frightening words, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!”  And why is this?  Because they are so wicked?  Because they have made their money through deceit and oppression?  No, but because they become ensnared in their wealth.  And this is the trouble with possessions.  Mark records Jesus saying that it is difficult for anyone to enter the Kingdom of God; it just seems harder for the wealthy.  And what of those who have forsaken everything for Christ?  Jesus tells them that those who have cut family ties and forsaken possessions for the Kingdom will receive even more in this life.  More of the same that they left behind?  Sure, in Kingdom terms, that is: brothers and sisters of the Kingdom, houses and lands for Kingdom service.  But let us not forget that Mark adds, “with persecutions.”  Jesus will not allow us to make his Kingdom an add-on to our lives.  He demands surrender.  But remember these words of missionary, Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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