Monday, September 01, 2014

Unrighteous Wealth (15) Rich Ruler

Jesus did not just tell parables about the dangers of unrighteous wealth, he applied his teaching in real life situations.

A rich man asked him how to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him about the commandments. The man insisted that he had kept them all since he was a boy, including the command not to steal. I presume he mentioned this one, because he had heard Jesus teaching about wealth.

Jesus cut to the chase and told him to sell everything and give it to the poor. The reason that he had to get rid of everything was that it was unrighteous wealth. The only way to make it right and comply with the standard of the law was to give it away.

This man was a ruler. In Jesus time, a ruler was an agent of the Roman empire. He was running the country on behalf of the Romans, which was a great way to become rich, without having to engage in robbery. Everything he did was legal, because he was an agent of the law.

Wealth gained by collusion with political power is unrighteous wealth. It is tainted with evil, so it cannot come into the kingdom.

Jesus gave a stark warning.

You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me (Luke 18:22).
This made the man very sad, because he had great wealth. He missed the promise of wealth in the spiritual realms. Jesus drew a blunt conclusion.
How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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 (Luke 18:24-25)
Some of Jesus listeners thought he was saying that it was impossible for a rich man to be saved, but they were wrong. It was just about impossible for an owner of unrighteous wealth, because their wealth has a hold on them that is hard to break.

Jesus was explaining that it was easy for a rich man to enter heaven, but it had to be done God’s way. A rich man could get rid of his unrighteous wealth by giving it away to the poor.

Unrighteous wealth cannot come into the kingdom. It must be left behind, or the owner must stay out. The owner must leave it behind, if they want to follow Jesus.

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