People tend to love the blessings God gives them, but neglect to love and honor Him for blessing them in the first place
By Donald Whitchard
Matthew 19:23,Mark 4:19,Mark 10:17-22,1 Timothy 6:9-10
Summary: The rich young ruler and his decision to walk away from the call of Jesus shattered the disciple’s beliefs about riches being an exclusive sign of favor with God. Money and possessions tend to be a hindrance to faith in Him instead.
A young man whom the Scriptures refer to as a “rich young ruler” came before Jesus with a question on how to obtain eternal life. After using the Law as a means of examining his motives, Jesus instructed him to go and sell all his possessions in order to receive spiritual treasure and then to follow Him. The ruler’s motives were exposed by his refusal to obey the LORD’S direction. He loved his possessions more than his claim to love and obey God and walked away not into just obscurity, but possibly an eternity void of real peace and salvation that could have been his if he had but just bowed before Jesus and followed Him. Like many potential converts, his motives had been based on works and receiving a nod of approval from God for doing his best, rather than recognizing that there is no one good or who truly seeks after God (Romans 3:10-18). It is the LORD who provides salvation (Psalm 3:8, 68:20; Acts 4:12), forgiveness, and mercy out of His love for us even though we were His enemies (Romans 5;6-11). Redemption is only through Jesus Christ and Him alone (John 3:16, 14:6, 20:30-31; Romans 6:23).
After the young man departed, Jesus began to teach His disciples about the difficulty a lot of people have in entering the Kingdom of Heaven who are attached to their earthly riches and possessions and do not want to let them go even when it means missing the true riches of heaven and eternal life with the LORD. People tend to love the blessings God gives them, but neglect to love and honor Him for blessing them in the first place. This is why it is better for a lot of folks to not have a lot of “stuff,” for the sheer fact that they cannot handle the responsibility of managing it wisely or consult the LORD for wisdom on how to use the blessings they have for His glory and use. Do you ever watch the “Christian” (so-called) programs where the slick “pulpit occupier” (certainly no true pastor as taught in 1 Timothy 3:1-8) will sweet talk their gullible audience into believing that God will give them riches and health because He is somehow obligated to do so or twist a verse of Scripture to back up their false teaching? People eat up this “salvation sales pitch” like they were at an multilevel marketing meeting or other pyramid scheme that promises everything and delivers nothing. Why? Do they not have enough “faith”? They have not planted a “seed” into the minister’s work? Hardly likely.
Most people do not experience material blessing or any other act of grace from God for the sheer fact that they look to Him as some kind of “slot machine” that works with the right combination of prayer and deed without a personal conviction to repent of their sins and seek His face and direction. Too many people have a lack of love, awe, or reverence for the Sovereign God of All Creation and to worship Him for being the great and merciful LORD that He is by giving us what we need, not so much what we want. God will not bless anyone financially if they do not know how to maintain a budget, or run up credit card debt, or purchase things they really do not need but want for the status it shows or whatever reason they can originate or justify. He has blessed us with common sense to look and see whether we have the maturity and discipline to handle any more possessions or the responsibility that comes with increased stewardship, and to check ourselves as to whether we are truly in the faith or not (Luke 12:48; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 11:6).
The late pastor Dr. E.V. Hill once said in a sermon that God can, if He desires, reach down to you in your hour of need and without you even asking will say, “HERE!” Out of His abounding mercy and love, He can get you out of your situation, but the price is to obey and serve Him when that does occur. I am not saying that He leaves us to flop and panic like a fish out of water because we goof it up with our money or talents and tells us, “too bad.” There are times when things get overwhelming and it looks like the sharks are about to eat you in spite of your best effort to keep the raft afloat. You’ve been thrifty and careful with what you have, but stuff happens, the bottom drops, and from all worldly viewpoints everything looks bleak. That happened to my family a few years ago and our trouble was not so much with money, but the fact that we were trying to solve our dilemmas in our own strength instead of having faith and trusting God to handle everything. For years my wife and I had been busting our backsides financially and other areas because we had the thought in our heads that God demanded that we help ourselves before He stepped in to help us. This mindset was certainly not founded upon Scripture even though we said we trusted Him. You can say a bunch of words and really not say anything worthwhile especially when it comes to authentic faith and belief. All too often we will claim that the LORD will see us through hard and trying times, but we also tend to keep a skeptical eye on things just in case we have to step in instead of really trusting Him like He tells us to do in His Word. We have all done it, no matter how long we say we have walked with Him. Let us be honest in that regard.
Because of credit cards and other expenses that hit us, we were over $100,000 in debt and there looked like there was no way out, and for someone to counsel our panicked souls and tell us to leave it in God’s hands was ridiculous in our thinking. We got ourselves into this mess, so why should we trust God to get us out of it? That was our line of thought, unfortunately. Our gracious God took care of the situation in spite of ourselves by an inheritance we did not expect. My wife’s mother had passed away from cancer in May of 2012, and my mother had died the previous year after filing a claim for my late stepfather’s exposure to Agent Orange while he served in Vietnam as a medic, back in the late 1960’s. In July of 2012 I had to fly down to Florida to preach my Dad’s funeral, so all of this was an emotional roller coaster that seemed to have no real purpose save for my parent’s departure to heaven. Unknown to us, these tragedies were used by the LORD to put His plan of help and mercy to us into action. After we had returned from Florida, my son told me that there were two letters on my desk that were from the U.S. Government. I opened them up thinking that it was a citation for my late parent’s respective military service. No. They were two checks for the Agent Orange settlement that totaled more than enough to pay off our credit card debt. My wife was the sole inheritor of my late mother-in-law’s estate which came with savings, stocks, mutual funds, and the sale of her house. In short, God gave us the means to pay off everything. Did we deserve such grace even in the midst of our doubts and skepticism? Do any of us deserve grace, mercy, and His salvation in the midst of any of our doubts, sins, and skepticism? No. It is true. Sometimes He does reach down without us asking and just says, “HERE!”
It is good to use the sense and thinking God provides for us as He expects, but He also is ready to give us the aid and mercy we need to make it in this tired and wicked world out of His love for us. He can pay off debts and provide us with our needs with only the faith of a mustard seed, barely visible, but produces a plant that is so profound. If we would but just use what faith we have to seek His will and His guidance, He will take that seed and make it a mighty tree of testimony to the world that He is good and kind and watches over us. Those of us who have trusted Him for salvation also know that He will return to make all things new, rid this old world of evil, sickness, and poverty, and usher in the eternal pure Kingdom of Heaven where all will be right and there will never be darkness of soul or lack of plenty ever again. He promised us in the Word (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21:1-7). If you are poor in spirit and in need of His touch, all you have to do is ask Him. Repent of your sins, ask Him to forgive you and surrender your life to Jesus Christ this day. The riches of heaven await you and He is ready to welcome you home.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.