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Matthew 19:16-30



Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”


… Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven …”

Then Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (verses 21, 23, 26)

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There are three themes that strike me here. The first is the obvious one of the riches themselves. This young man, though intent on pleasing God and securing eternal life, is rich (with “great wealth”) and the riches themselves have a stronger grip than does the desire for spiritual life. Jesus tells him that this power must be broken – he must sell his possessions, dispensing the wealth and giving to those in need. The challenge is too much, the grip too strong. The young man turns and walks away, downcast, because he can’t do it.


This command isn’t given to everyone in the Gospels. And while the early church lived sacrificially, giving generously, there were clearly some who retained their possessions, welcoming the church to meet in their homes.


Yet, riches can too easily get in the way.

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Lord, by any world-wide standard, I am rich. What do you say to me, today, about possessions and wealth? Do they grip too strongly? Are my motives and perspectives skewed because of them? Is my focus on you hampered?

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The second theme I notice is that of “following.” This is the main issue. The young man, once he ridded himself of riches and their constraint, was to “come, follow”. He’s kept the commandments, but what he needs is connection with the Lord himself, orienting his life to the Master’s call. With nothing holding him back, he’s meant to get in stride with Jesus.


This is the key issue for me, too. How closely am I actually following? Is my attention divided? Am I lagging behind?

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Jesus, give me eyes to see any impediment. O Lord, let me fix my eyes more closely on you, putting aside everything that hinders, throwing off the sin that so easily entangles.

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The third theme is empowering: “with God all things are possible.” Yes. Praise his name. Even camels go through needle-eyes when the Lord is at work. Of course, to get the rich young man to that place would still involve the dispersal of his wealth. To get me where he wants me will include sacrificial obedience on my part. But praise his name, nothing is insurmountable – not in my life, nor in the lives of those I care for.

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O Lord, raise my sights from the impossibilities in which I stand, to focus instead on your unlimited ability to work wonders, in my life, and that of others. I submit to you my limitations, my encumbrances, my distractions. I release to you my limited faith. I choose to embrace your endless possibilities.


May you be glorified, O Lord. Amen.

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Reflect: What impediment threatens to slow you down in following the Lord today? Talk to him about it. Release it into his hands.

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