March 12, 2024

Rich Young Man - Morning Devotion on Mar. 8, 2024

The Rich Young Man

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

"Which ones?" the man inquired

Jesus replied, "'Do not murder; do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself."

Matthew 19:16-25

Everyone is seeking happiness. People do what they do in search of happiness, but we know painfully well that they do not find it. On the other hand, we are a group of people who are agonizing and suffering almost to the maximum extent of misery. But we can find true love, lofty ideals, and all the positive things. Now we can reach a conclusion based on common sense. In the secular life of physical enjoyment, almost no enduring love can be found. As a general rule, you have more chance of finding love among those who lead a suffering life than among well-to-do people. That is exactly what Jesus pointed out when he said it is more difficult for a rich man to go to the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

Who is the most patriotic person in a country? Is it a person who has everything at his disposal and can do whatever he desires? Who has love? Is it this well-to-do person, or is it more likely someone who lives in miserable conditions but is ready to give whatever he has for the sake of the nation? Which of these people has a better chance of finding happiness? The sacrificial person. Nobody envies him, but he is in a better position.

Of course, there are two kinds of humble people. One is forced to live this kind of life simply because he is poor. That may be a different story. But the man who could lead a first-rate, rich life but gives it up to live in a more humble fashion is the one who has the chance of finding love and happiness. You know the rules of the Principle very clearly. By the same token, a citizen in the greatest and most affluent country of America, who gives everything up and chooses to go to Africa and suffer with the people there, helping them to improve and raising them up above misery and sickness, is a great man. If Americans chose to trade their affluence for that way of life, they would be respected all over the world and they would find happiness. They would find the love and respect of other people. Does this sound farfetched or reasonable? This is reality.

The Realm of Heavenly Liberation

December 15, 1991

Would you prefer having true love or cheap love? Would you rather submit to the demands of true love from the very beginning, or only the last 20 percent of your life? A person who thinks he is clever might prefer taking the easy way. That is why Jesus said that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. In the Orient we say "the ear of the needle." Jesus meant that it would be practically impossible, even if the rich man lost all his wealth and sank into poverty. If a poor man could easily enter heaven, why would a rich man never be likely to make it? Once a person becomes self-centered and arrogant, even though he may falter and become penniless he will usually remain self-centered. That quality will not quickly vanish. Poor people, however, have flexibility. Because they have nothing, they are more willing to go anywhere and do anything.

Crossroads of Life and Death

December 17, 1978

Riches of Love  

Matthew 19: 16 – 24 tells the story of a rich young man who asked Jesus’ advice about how he could attain eternal life. 

Jesus told him to keep the Ten Commandments and also to love his neighbor as himself. 

The young man said he had done that since he was very young. Was there anything else? 

Jesus replied, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). 

But when the young man heard that, “he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19: 22).

Then Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

There is some speculation that “the eye of the needle” was a small, low gate in Jerusalem that a camel could pass through only if it was unloaded of its burdens and went down on its knees. 

The tradition of this interpretation dates back to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Anselm, Christian church fathers of the 11th and 12th centuries. 

So, a rich person would have to take off the burden of his or her material goods and get down on his or her knees.

Jesus urged a simplicity of life and faith in God’s provision. 

In Luke 12: 24, Jesus said, “Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”

In the Old Testament, wealth was considered a sign of God’s favor. 

God blessed Jacob and Isaac with flocks and herds—they were rich men.

Verses in Proverbs seem to say that there is only one reason for poverty – laziness. 

Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” 

Proverbs 12:27 says, “The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.”

Psalms promise that God will bless those who honor him, with prosperity. 

Psalm 34:10 says, “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” 

Psalm 37:25 says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their descendants begging bread.” 

Ecclesiastes celebrates abundance as the fruits of a person’s labor: “When God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

There are warnings, though, in the Old Testament not to focus on wealth. 

Psalms 37:16 says, “The little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.”

Proverbs 8:11 warns that “Wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”

In modern times, Mother Teresa said the West suffers from a kind of poverty. 

She said, “The poverty of the West is a different kind of poverty—it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”  

In addition to addressing material poverty, it is that poverty of spirit and of heart that we need to address through offering others the richness of God’s love and truth. 

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