Monday, August 30, 2010

The Rich Man's Camel

 Luke 18:18-30

If Jesus asked you to give up all your money, your possessions, even your family, to follow Him, would you?

We continually announce our undying love and devotion to Jesus but, for now, the majority of us live in relative comfort with all of life’s necessities surrounding us.  We are used to having certain comforts in our lives and, often, take them for granted.  Our priority is to succeed in establishing a good life for ourselves; a well-paying job, a home, a family, and eventually, a secure retirement.

We live in a nation that has afforded us the ability to climb the ladder of success and achieve great things.  The mantle of success in America is determined by how much wealth, power, and prestige a person has amassed in his lifetime.  The property he possesses and the name  he has made for himself are viewed as great accomplishments for the one who conquered all odds.  But how willing, regardless of our station in life, would any of us be to give it all up to follow Jesus Christ?  Or would we hang our heads and walk away as this young man did?

The answer Jesus gave to the rich young man was not directed at his purse strings.  It was aimed at his heart.  Our Lord knew what dwelt there as the man approached Him.  Although the young man had been educated in the law and felt he was blameless because of his adherence to it, Jesus could see what he truly prized the most: his wealth, his possessions, and the life of ease he had created for himself.  He mistakenly thought he could continue to maintain his position and wealth and, at the same time, gain heaven through his struggle to follow the Law of Moses.

Jesus response threatened the very basis of this man’s security and identity.  It threw him into a tailspin over the possible loss of his material wealth and the fear of being thrown into poverty.  The man’s original zeal was two-fold.  He wanted to retain his stature in the community, and wanted to add to it by being called one of Jesus’ disciples.  But Jesus was telling him he could not have both in the way he desired them.  Although the man seemingly possessed every bit of life’s comforts and rewards, Jesus pointed out to him that he was placing all of those things above the most important treasure he could possess.  Forcing him to make a choice, Jesus revealed within the nature of the man an unwillingness to give up his temporal possessions because, to him, they had more value than what Jesus was offering.  The young man walked away, dejected over the answer he had received.

The rich young man had burdened his camel with what the world could give him.  Going to the heart of the matter, Jesus pronounced the difficulty of securing eternal life for those of us who value our current lives and current successes over the One Who is able to give us eternal life (v 24, 25).  Most of us would be no different than the rich man who was saddened over the prospect of giving it all up.  Whether we belong to the Fortune 500 Club, owning a caravan of camels, or are as poor as a church mouse, we view our possessions as a necessity with which we are not willing to part.

The thing the young man lacked was the understanding that a greater treasure awaited him in heaven.  By trying to load his camel with all the worldly possessions he could amass was not going to gain him anything.

Jesus concluded his conversation of conviction by declaring that if we would unload the camel in this life, much more would be given us in the next.  By forsaking what the entire world has to offer and making Jesus Christ our most prized possession then, perhaps, that camel might make it through the eye of the needle.

Suggested reading:
  • Matthew 6:19


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, that is a wonderful devotion. Let me introduce myself. My name is Tim Becker and a friend of Dale and Peggy for many years, in fact since we met in Fairbanks, AK. Since April of this year I have been producing a Christian teaching newsletter and have run quite a few of Dale's articles already. So two things I ask: one, can I use this devotion in the next newsletter and two, would you like to receive the newsletter. I send it out via email in pdf format... let me know. My email is: bless your day.

Karen L. Brahs said...

Hi Tim,

Thank you for leaving your comment. Dale has spoken of you and your work, and he's said that you have visited my blog. I appreciate that! I'll reply via email soon!