…A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat. 19, 23)
To Christ in the days of His ministry on the earth a young man came, who had kept the basic commands (Mat. 19, 16-22). It is difficult to imagine that he himself could save up the wealth – he was young yet! More probably he inherited all his riches… Falling on his knees before Christ he asked about his urgent matter, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
(Deviating from the subject, I tell: if today a young man with such a praiseworthy biography asked to accept him to the church, he wouldn’t be, perhaps, rejected: he did not kill, did not lie, honored his father and mother, loved his neighbors! And most probably we wouldn’t ask him, what would you do with what you have?)
So it was an interesting young man with ah uneasy soul. He was, as we see, well off, but his soul languished for the eternity. On the earth he possessed many things and in the heaven he wanted to become the possessor of eternal life.
Christ said what he lacked for an eternal happiness, which he longed for, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven”.
Telling about himself the young man underlined that he loved his neighbors but it was just words. Christ suggested his loving by works: to give his savings to the poor. It brought the young man to sorrow. Yes, he asked what to do for the sake of eternal life, but to do it he didn’t want. For saving his soul he didn’t want to become poor. So clearly the deceitfulness of riches choke the saving word (Mark. 4, 19). The young man went away with sorrow. “Golden” embraces of material welfare turned out to be the embraces of death. “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven”!
Many members of the churches of our brotherhood – are the children of believing parents. They since their early childhood have been present at worship services; they know the order of the church life, take part in labor. About many of them their parents tell good things. Perhaps it is hard to call them rich but with an uneasy souls – yes. Their spirit is confused; they are in painful search; they are not satisfied with the look of pious life. They need to take sensible decisions that will determine their future life but they do not know what to prefer. When they come into the church, they are not told: sell the car, give out what you have, and then come and we shall decide upon your membership… Nevertheless choosing the narrow path of Christ each young man should give up all what can hinder his inheriting the life eternal.
During the years of persecution many believers had only the most necessary for life things. Having an estate was out of the question when for faith they fired from work, fined, sentenced for long terms of imprisonment?!
Today God changed the conditions and to choose the narrow path is necessary under other circumstances. In last decades children dreamt to build up their life imitating their fathers, “I shall grow up, serve in the army, serve the term in prison for God and become an elder”. And now? Today they say, “I shall grow up, buy a big car and become a long distance driver or a businessman”. Seldom one dreams to become a preacher.
The time of freedom multiplied the number of rich young directors. They worked their way in business but their soul is poor and weak like a beggar has. Wealth cannot satisfy it, it needs heavenly food.
He, who carried away by wealth, can hardly enter the Heavenly Kingdom. Who among people wants to have difficulties? Each one strives to avoid them. However, if someone strives for accumulation, he himself makes difficulties for himself and in the most important question of his life: in the question of personal salvation. The young man, about whom the scripture tells us, could enter the salvation but he did not want to part with the earthly things. His soul took a strong liking to the riches that have no value in the eternity. The devil knows the weak places of every man and leads battle for every soul, - we must not forget it.
I was an unbeliever when became married. At my wedding, my uncle wished me, “Make three rubles out of one!” Much time passed until I understood his advice. Then I came to faith, and his wish became useless. The whole world lives chasing for profit. For the sake of wealth, they lie, kill but do not become happy.
Christ, though He was rich, became poor for our sakes (2 Cor. 8, 9) and got the treasure salvation for each of us. Moreover, woe to us if we change it for perishable earthly precious things. Woe to us, if we lift up not to the heavenly but the earthly things, if we wish a well-provided life and go away from Christ.
“About what wealth we can talk?! – Some people are ready to object. – I live on scholarship, my parents help me a little and it is unknown how long I have to depend on them! Passion for wealth doesn’t threaten me!”
I will tell you one thing: if someone has inner inclination for luxury, for satisfied life, the devil will give a chance to have much money, and they will not stand up, they will not have strength to refuse from the desired things. They will not want to suffer cold, need, dangers for the sake of God.
In the past years, the strength of faith of Christians was tested in a special way. I just turned to God and was called up by my chief.
You wrongly came to faith; - a mysterious smile was on his face. – You must change your faith or to believe quietly not telling anyone…
But it is impossible!
You are young and even do not imagine what people will get interested with you! Nobody could stand up against them yet…
I did not understand his warning and did not pay any attention to his words.
20 years passed. Once I met a worker whom I knew, he was on pension already. We talked.
I know the district where you live, I used to be there and remember some houses even today.
“He worked in one district and was where I live?” – I was surprised.
I say, but weren’t you a KGB worker? – I guessed.
He, pleased, smiled.
Perhaps you were busy also with me as with a believer?
He changed his countenance but did not confess; many years of training were evident.
It is well for you now, - he continued. – Now nobody disturbs you…
But we still don’t trust you. And true believers will always be hated by the world…
Our brotherhood by the mercy of God withstood the pressure of this danger. About this recently they told a responsible minister of the brotherhood, warning, “You could stand up against KGB, but nobody could yet have resisted the dollar…” In the arsenal of the devil there are many ruinous means. However, thanks to God, no weapon formed against the true Church will prosper (Is. 54, 17). This temptation is not new. God allows these circumstances for His people, and each of us has a possibility to reveal faithfulness, to be satisfied with what God sends and do not make obstacles on the way to the eternity.
Temptations begin with the little: for example, you have yet a good thing but you see your friends have a better one and buy the same for yourself. You did not notice a family that needs bread near you, did not remember about the needs of the work of God, but could not withstand what wouldn’t bring you closer to the Heavenly Kingdom. How will you withstand a greater temptation? It is not a sin to buy better things but often it is possible to do without luxury things.
It was not a sin for David to send brave men for water to the well of Bethlehem and it was not a sin to drink this water. However, David refused from what was his own by right and poured out the water to the glory of God (2 Sam. 23, 15-17).
Nehemiah, being in captivity, asked Artaxerxes to build Jerusalem. He worked for 12 years in Judah, was a governor, but having the fear of God didn’t use his salary of a governor, didn’t buy fields and every day fed 150 people from his table, besides those who came from the neighboring peoples (Neh. 5, 14-19).
It is not a sin to possess wealth but to let wealth possess us. If any young Christian the Lord provides wealth – there are people to share it! There are people to give food to! There are places where money and a car and food and clothes to spend to! If you want to be perfect and to have the life eternal, listen to the saving word of Christ, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor”. And isn’t it a reason why the Lord gives wealth as to serve by them for saving sinners and to obtain an imperishable treasure inn the heaven?!
The rich man, about whom Christ told the parable, was called fool because plentifully sent by God harvest he owned to himself: my fruits, my barns, my goods, my soul (Luk. 12, 16-20). Don’t we also say so, aware that we are not our own but bought with a price (1 Cor. 6, 19-20)? “There is nothing better for a man, than that e should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in is labour. …it was from the hand of God. For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto without Him?” (Eccl. 2, 24-25).
“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” – Christ warned His disciples (Luk. 12, 15). A foolish rich man intended to live for many years, take his ease, eat, drink, and be merry. However, he did not know that “much goods” doesn’t at all mean a long life. “This night thy soul shall be required of thee…” – it is impossible to cancel the fatal sentence and impossible to find bars of gold to pay off the death.
The thought about wealth turned the head of not a single young man and distracted a big number of Christians from fulfilling the basic goal of life: to seek first the kingdom of God, to care about saving soul and not about temporal well-being (Mat. 6, 33).
John the Apostle said about his wandering co-laborers that “for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of Gentiles” (3 John. v.7). What means did the brethren have for transportation, of whom John took a care, what did they eat, drink, where did they stay at night, if they did not take anything of Gentiles, - we can just partly imagine. Paul the Apostle said about his life of evangelist in this way, “I am… in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft... in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Cor. 11: 23, 27). This is a true devotion! This is a real following Christ!
Every ministry at the church, and the more – evangelisation, is connected with big expenses. Young brothers and sisters should not only know about the needs of evangelisation laborers but also to strive for personal participation in it, to help with all they can do, to become the fellowhelpers to the truth and not to lose eternal salvation.