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Every child has that moment in their life in which for the first time in front of their sibling or a friend they are able to clearly articulate their hearts desire. This moment often arrives when two kids are looking to play with a toy. One of the kids grabs the toy and the other declares their hearts desire with a single word - "Mine."

My dog does this with tennis balls.

Gollum/Bilbo/Frodo do this with the ring of power.

There is just something in us that craves to have and hold things to ourselves and not share with anyone.

Something similar is going on here in Matthew 19:23-24

MATTHEW 19:23-24

Jesus has just told a rich, young ruler that if he wants the best possible experience of life he should sell everything and follow him.

The text says the rich, young ruler walks away sad because he had a lot of stuff.

Then Jesus says this to the disciples:

23 ..."Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to 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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Without going into too much details, in verse 24 Jesus is probably, possibly referring to a small hole-in-the-wall entrance into a camp after the main gate was closed. It was designed to keep the right things in and the right things out. A camel would have to bend low and would need the help of others to get through.

In other words, there's a way - but it's not easy. He echoes this kind of teaching about discipleship in general when he says, "The road is broad that leads to destruction, but the road is narrow that leads to life."


The primary issue with the rich, young ruler is not (as the old phrase goes) that he had riches, but instead that his riches had him. He was unwilling to depart from them. Jesus says, there's a way that leads to life but it requires generosity and humility (not poverty). It requires asking the Lord to make you generous and asking the Lord to make you humble.

This kind of rich-being-generous life is also scattered throughout the New Testament:

  • Zaccheus and Jesus
  • Joseph of Aramatheia and Jesus
  • James writes to encourage the wealthy among you to be generous
  • Etc.

In conclusion, these teachings of Jesus on riches don't invite us into or glorify or life up as a standard a life of poverty. On the contrary, Jesus invites people to increase in wealth, riches, and stewardship while having wildly open hands of generosity.