It’s probably worth taking some more time with the story of the rich young ruler. Because there is something that Jesus said that we can get wrong if we’re not careful.
Look at the following exchange:
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:21-23
We need to be clear that Jesus wasn’t saying that wealth was bad.
He wasn’t saying that everyone needs to give up their possessions. There were two things at play that help us understand exactly what Jesus was saying.
First, for this specific man, his possessions came between him God and him. And so for him, he needed to give away his stuff in order to be sold out to following Jesus. If it had been another person, maybe Jesus’ response would have been different. Maybe he would have said, “You need to quit drinking and follow me,” or, “You need to sell your business and follow me.” Jesus knew what this man’s struggles were. And while it’s a powerful warning to all people, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to sell their possessions to follow Jesus.
Second, Jesus isn’t saying that wealth or money is bad. There have been countless numbers of Christians throughout the centuries whom generously funded nearly infinite amounts of missions, charitable projects, and other initiatives that have grown God’s Kingdom. God leads many wealthy people to generously give. So being rich isn’t a sin. Not by any means.
What Jesus was saying is that it’s harder for a wealthy person to stay focused on the things of God because there is great temptation to allow their wealth to distract them.
It’s an important teaching, one that is easy to get wrong. Now you know!