Wealth and Piety
Luke 18:24
And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

Wherein lies the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom? This young ruler shrank from parting with his property, but Jesus Christ does not ordinarily ask men of wealth to "sell all that they have and give to the poor." His difficulty, therefore, is not the common one.

1. It is not that the rich man is not as welcome to the friendship of Christ as the poor man. He does not make distinctions in his invitation, or in his desire that men should come to him. In him in whom is neither male nor female, bond nor free, there is neither rich nor poor. The poor as much as the rich, and also the rich as much as the poor, are the objects of his love and of his seeking. The Lord of our nature regards us, and concerns himself for us, not on account of our circumstances, but because he knows the value of our souls.

2. Not because the rich man cannot illustrate the distinctive graces of Christianity. The sale and distribution of property in apostolic times was an expedient which was adopted for the occasion; but it was not insisted upon as necessary even then (Acts 5:4), and it was very soon abandoned. Paul, writing to Timothy, wrote on the supposition that the Christian Church included many wealthy men (1 Timothy 6.). Every age and every country has witnessed the lives of wealthy Christian men, who have illustrated every grace that the great Teacher has commended. It is clear that a rich man map be as humble, as generous, as temperate, as pure, as devout, as any poor man can be; and he sometimes is so. The explanation of our Lord's language is found in the fact that riches are apt to put a serious obstacle in the way of entrance into the kingdom. If we would find our way into that holy and blessed kingdom, it is necessary that we should have a sense of our personal emptiness and need. We come to Christ to be filled with his fulness, to be enriched by his grace and love. He is a Physician, and it is they who feel that they are sick that are likely to apply for his healing power. He is the Divine Source of all wealth and enrichment (Revelation 3:18), and they must know themselves to be poor who come to buy of him gold that they may become rich. Hence the difficulty. It is for this reason that -

I. A MAN WHOSE MIND IS FULL OF KNOWLEDGE finds it hard to receive distinctive Christian truth. He is rich, as compared with his fellows, in the acquisition of knowledge. He is proud of this possession of his, and is bent on making the most of it. Jesus Christ comes to him, and says that he must lay aside his own views and notions, and sit at his feet and receive the truth he brings to him from God. Then the "rich" man has to sacrifice his favourite theories, has to make nothing of his learning, that he may admit to his mind the wisdom that is from above; and he finds it very "hard" to do this.

II. A MAN WHO IS CLOTHED WITH HONOUR finds it hard to take a very humble view of himself. For honour is an order of wealth, and one that is highly prized. But the natural and common effect of it is to lead those who are the objects of it to form a flattering view of themselves; it is hard to get them to believe that in God's sight they may be as sinful as those held in very much less regard by their fellow-men. But the ground on which human souls must come to Christ is that of humility. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

III. A MAN WHOSE CHAMBERS ARE FULL OF TREASURE is tempted to seek his satisfaction in the lower good. We have to make our choice, as Divine truth is presented to us, whether we will live for the service of Christ or for our own personal enjoyment and aggrandizement. To the poor, to the afflicted, to the suffering, to those who know they have not long to live, the temptation to live for this present world is not so strong; on their ear the overtures of the gospel of grace fall as that very thing they need for theft comfort and their peace; they have little to surrender, they have much to gain. But to those to whom every avenue of enjoyment is open; to those who may look hopefully, perhaps confidently, for place, for power, for society, for pleasure, for honour, - the inducement is very strong and urgent to cast in their lot with those "whose portion is in this life." Many voices very close to their ear, very clear and convincing, call for their strength to be given to the material rather than the spiritual, to the temporal rather than the eternal, to the human rather than the Divine; and it is "hard" for them to resist and to overcome.

1. Let poverty find its ample consolation in the accessibility of the riches that always satisfy and never flee.

2. Let those who know neither poverty nor riches thank God for the happy mean in which his providence has placed them - not subjecting them to the temptations of either.

3. Let wealth beware lest it make a sad, a supreme, mistake; lest, in the great spiritual strife, it -

"Clutch the tinsel gilding, and let go the crown of life." C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

WEB: Jesus, seeing that he became very sad, said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!

You Cannot Take Your Riches with You into the Kingdom If You are Going to Trust in Them
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