The False “god” of Wealth: Matthew 19:16-22
“16) And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17) And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18) Then he *said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19) Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20) The young man *said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21) Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22) But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭16‬-‭22‬
In this story, Jesus exposes the false “god” of wealth. It is important to note that He does not condemn the man for being immoral or ungodly. In fact, he was a very good, moral and religious man. He had consciously kept the Ten Commandments. There was much to admire about him.
It is a mistake to assume that all wealthy people are bad. To the contrary, people who accumulate wealth by applying biblical principles work hard, have good ethics and are often very generous. So what was the underlining problem with this man?
He had unconsciously made the pursuit of money his god. Wealth became the basis of his security. Self confidence replaced any need to trust in God. He had become prideful and self centered. His time, energies and attention were consumed by the accumulation of wealth. His identity was connected to things and not to God. For him, wealth translated to influence, power and value. He saw himself as better than anyone else.
But there was another problem. He was consumed by the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for things. (Mark 5:18-19) He had become like seed sown in thorns. He was choking on his own money. His life was consumed with worry, stress and anxiety. Hedonism is a very unhealthy life style!
What you own… soon owns you! Things cannot make you happy. The narcotic nature of wealth blurs a true vision of God, self and others. It takes control of your life. Wealth becomes an all consuming Master.
When Jesus challenged Him to divest of His wealth and follow Him, his loyalty remained with His money. He loved the values of this world more than Jesus. He became and example of the church at Laodicea that Jesus addressed in Revelation 3:14-22. His wealth blocked him from embracing and experiencing true kingdom values and dynamics. He was religious but empty, devoid of spirit and lost.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global.