Matthew 19:23-30 (ESV)

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The rich young man walked away from Jesus sorrowful because Jesus asked him to sell his stuff and give it to the poor. This wealthy man had great possessions that he couldn’t imagine parting with, even to follow the Lord. Jesus then told the disciples that it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus didn’t say the rich can’t be saved, but he said it was hard for them. The wealthy are more tempted to trust in their riches than the poor. Jesus also said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus reinforced the point he taught: wealth can slow down or even stop spiritual progress. This surprised the disciples, who viewed wealth as a sign of God’s blessing. The disciples then thought, “If a rich man with God’s blessing upon his life can’t be saved, then who can?” Verse 25 states that the disciples were not merely surprised but extremely astonished. This just didn’t add up to them. The Pharisees had long taught that God gives wealth to those he loves. The culture they lived in believed the rich were wealthy because God favored them. How could those favored by God not be saved?

The disciples asked Jesus, “Well, who then can be saved?” Jesus replied to this that all things are possible with God. Only God has the power to save souls. What do we wrongly view as indicators of God’s favor on a person’s life? Intellect? Beauty? Marriage? Children? Money? Power? Popularity? All these things can be gifts from God, but we must be careful to never let his gifts end up being the very things that keep us from him. If God has graced you with much, be thankful. Use the gifts he has given you for his glory. But always keep your hands open before him. As he has freely given to you, he has the right to freely take away. God has seemingly withheld from you in your current season of life, thank him as well. Realize your “poverty” could be just what you need for spiritual growth. Either way, let’s keep our focus off of the “stuff” and on him as we rejoice that he can save anyone, rich or poor.