In Matthew 19, a young man is telling Jesus that he has followed God’s commandments all his life and wants to know what else he must do to get to Heaven. Jesus tells him, in verse 21, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give your money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
This verse really gives us something to think about. Over and over in the Gospels, Jesus brings the poor into discussion, and is constantly trying to encourage his followers to include those less fortunate and to give service to those in need.
The verses that follow this one tell of how the young man is disappointed because he is wealthy and doesn’t want to part with anything that he owns. Jesus follows that verse with his famous saying about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven.
It is a stern warning for us to be careful with our relationship to money and to material goods. The poor and disabled were constantly the focus of Jesus’ attention on Earth, and it must be very hard for God and Christ to look down on us and see all the wealth on this planet tucked away into coffers while so many of their children are suffering and deprived.
Christ doesn’t want us to make this same mistake, he wants to make it clear to us that we should channel the love he feels for us through our hearts to help those less fortunate, and to live lives that reflect a focus on him and his teachings, instead of accumulating wealth and material splendor. He promises us at the end of these verses that we will be rewarded in heaven for keeping him and God and their teachings at the center of our lives.
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