“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

– Matthew 19:24

 

This sobering sermon will stop you short as an American to discover the wealth that we have enjoyed compared to most of the rest of the world…..enjoy Pastor Chan…..it will change you for sure…..are we lukewarm and loving it?

 

 

 

For further study~

 

The following teaching has been provided by: John Wesley over at  Drury Writing

 

How does wealth hinder holiness?  To list them would require a large volume, so we will only touch on a few of them.

 

 

Riches–hindrance to holiness

 

Hindrance to faith

Consider the hindrance to faith prompted by riches.  The root of all religion is faith, without which it is impossible to please God .  There are several ways to interpret the term “faith.”

 

(1) You may consider faith as the “evidence of things not seen” –a belief in the invisible things of God.  If so, then riches hinder this kind of faith in that they tend to focus your mind on the visible and material rather than the invisible and eternal, thus making faith in the unseen difficult.

 

(2) Perhaps you take “faith” as meaning confidence or trust in God.  What a tendency for wealth to destroy this!  Having wealth tends to make a person trust in wealth.  Rather than looking to God for happiness or protection, the rich trust in their riches to provide these things.

 

(3)  Or if you take faith in the proper Christian sense, as a divine confidence in a pardoning God; riches are a deadly–almost insurmountable–hindrance to faith!  Can a rich man lay aside his power and prestige and come to God as a sinner on the level with his poorest employee; with the “beggar who lies at his gate full of sores?”    Can a rich man have saving faith?  Impossible; unless through some power that made the heavens and the earth.  Yet without humbling himself like this, a rich person cannot, in any sense, “enter into the kingdom of God.”

 

So however you understand faith, riches are a great hindrance to it.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  They are hindered from having faith.

 

Hindrance to love

 

Wealth is an equal hindrance to the first fruit of faith, loving God.  “If any man love the world,” the apostle Paul said, “the love of the father is not in him” How is it possible for a man or woman to not love the world who is constantly surrounded with all the world’s allurements?  How can this person still hear the still small voice which says, “My son, give me your heart?”  What power (unless the Almighty’s) enable the rich person to honestly sing,–

 

Keep me dead to all below,

Only Christ resolved to know;

Firm and disengaged, and free,

Seeking all my bliss in Thee!

 

Wealth is an obstacle to love of God.  But it is an equal hindrance to loving our neighbor as ourselves; that is, to loving all men and women as Christ loved us.  A rich man may indeed love people of his own party, race, or those of his own opinion.  He may love those who love him:  “Do not even the pagans do the same?”  But a rich person cannot have pure disinterested good-will to every child of man.  This kind of love can only spring from the love of God, which his great possessions expelled from his soul.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  They are hindered from loving.

 

Hindrance to humility

 

Where does humility come from?  The love of God is the source-spring of all true humility.  Therefore as far as riches hinder the love of God they likewise hinder true humility.  But beyond this, riches cut us off from conversations which might make us aware of our own defects, weaknesses, and shortcomings.  People seldom tell a rich man what they really think of him.  Without this frank and humbling conversation we are likely to grow old in our faults until we die at the zenith of our deeply rutted imperfections.  The rich are seldom humble.

 

Hindrance to meekness

 

Without humility, meekness cannot survive; for “of pride cometh contention”.  Jesus directs us to learn of Him and at the same time “to be meek and lowly in heart.”  Riches are as great a hindrance to meekness as they are to humility.  Wealth prevents an attitude of humility which, in turn, prevents meekness.  Why?  Because meekness increases in proportion to our own decreasing opinion of ourselves.  Conversely, the higher we think of ourselves, the less meekness we exhibit.  Thus, since riches inflate a person’s self-opinion it likewise decreases the Christian virtue of meekness.

 

This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.

 

Hindrance to yieldedness

 

This Christian virtue is closely allied to meekness and humility.  For lack of a better term we shall call it “yieldedness.”  It is a readiness to submit to others, to give up our own will.  This seems to be the quality St. James credits to “the wisdom from above,” which we translate “easily entreated;” easy to be convinced of what is true; easily persuaded.  How rarely is this characteristic found in a rich person!

 

Hindrance to patience

 

How uncommon it is to find patience among the rich and powerful.  Unless, of course, there is the counterbalance of long and severe suffering, which God sometimes grants to rich people he loves, as an antidote to their riches.  This is not a rarity:  God sometimes sends pain and sickness or other great crosses to those who have great possessions.  By these means, “patience has its perfect work,” until they are “complete and lacking nothing” (James 1:4).

 

These are merely a few of the hindrance to holiness surrounding the rich on every side.  Riches poison the soul.  Riches keep the person from holy qualities like faith, love, humility, meekness, yieldedness, patience.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for a rich person to be saved.

 

 

Riches–temptation to sin

 

Not only are riches a great hindrance to holy qualities, they are likewise a temptation to unholy dispositions.

 

Temptation to Atheism

 

The greatest temptation which naturally flows from riches in Atheism–even to the extent of complete forgetfulness of God–as if there was no such Being in the universe.  “Enjoy life, you deserve it. . . you owe it to yourself” is the creed of the rich.  This philosophy is common and its prophets are persuasive:  “you only go around once in life, grab all the gusto you can.”  They presume that God (if there is one) is “watching from a distance” and all that matters is the tangible, the material; what you have and enjoy.  Materialism is Atheism.  Laugh on; play on; sing on; dance on:  but “For all these things God will bring you to judgment!”  (     )  Riches promote Atheism–living like the material is more important than the spiritual.  This is why rich people have great difficulty being Christians–it is much easier for the rich to be Atheists–at least practically live like an Atheist.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  Atheists do not enter the kingdom of God.  Atheists do not enter the kingdom–even those who do not claim to be Atheists, yet live like it.

 

 

Temptation to idolatry

 

From Atheism there is an easy transition to idolatry; from the worship of no God to the worship of false gods.  In fact, he who does not love God will sooner or later love the works of God’s hand–the creature, if not the creator.  To how many varieties of idolatry is the rich man or woman exposed!  He is under constant temptation to “love the world” in all its branches–“the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life” .

 

(1)  Desire of the flesh.  The rich person is under countless temptations to gratify the flesh.  Understand this clearly.  The “desire of the flesh” does not refer to only one desire, but gratifying all outward senses.  It is equal idolatry to seek our happiness in gratifying any of these senses.  Some may boast that they would never gratify the fleshly desire through sexual promiscuity or drunkenness, but they seek happiness in the sensuality of eating great feasts.  They avoid unhealthy alcohol taking care of their bodies; they just keep the soul dead through their sensuousness.

 

(2)  Desire of the eyes.  Rich people are equally surrounded by temptation from the “desire of the eyes;” that is, seeking happiness in gratifying the imagination, of which the eyes are the chief minister.  How do you get pleasure through the eyes?  The pleasures of the imagination are those things which are grand, wonderful, beautiful, or new.  Have you not found this true?  Rich people have a taste for grand objects and beautiful things. . . but especially for new things.  The desire for novelty–newness-is as natural to men and women as the desire for meat or drink.

 

Now, consider the multitude of temptations to this kind of idolatry, which naturally flow from riches!  How strongly are the rich tempted to seek happiness in grand and beautiful houses, in elegant furniture, in valuable and curious artwork, in luxurious automobiles, and perhaps in that most trivial of all trivialities–expensive designer clothing.  The rich of lower mentality must have every new thing which they are told is fashionable.

 

And the rich who are of a more elevated mind are tempted to seek happiness in poetry, history, music, philosophy, or curious arts and science.  Although these things all have their use and can be pursued purely, seeking happiness in any of them, instead of God, is outright idolatry.  Therefore since riches furnish a man or woman increasing opportunity to indulge these desires shouldn’t it be asked, “Is not the life of a rich person, above all others, full of great temptations to indulge the “desire of the eyes” on earth.

 

(3) The pride of life.  Or consider how much a rich man or woman is tempted to seek happiness in “the pride of life.”  The apostle Paul was not meaning pomp, or showing off, or traveling with an impressive entourage as much as the “honor that comes from men,” whether deserved or not.  A rich person is sure to encounter this; it is a trap he can not escape.  Why is it universally true that “if you do well” and increase in goods, “men will speak well of you.”  Riches bring honor.

 

And who can withstand this honor and applause without beginning to “think more highly of himself than he ought to think” succumbing to the temptation of the “pride of life.”  How can a rich person escape pride for this reason alone–his wealth attracts praise from every quarter?  Praise is generally poison to the soul; and the more pleasing, the more fatal.  This is particularly true when it is undeserved.  But not only praise–deserved or undeserved–but everything about the rich man or woman tends to inspire and increase pride.  The opulent home, elegant furniture, well-chosen art, expensive automobile, fine suits or dresses have an almost irresistible tendency to make the rich person think more highly of him or herself than they ought to think.  Riches bring the temptation to the “pride of life.”  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  They are constantly tempted to idolatry–to gratify the desires of the flesh, or eyes, or submit to the temptation to the pride of life.

 

Temptation to self-will.

 

All of us start out life with a natural self-will–a selfish drive to have our own way.  Riches naturally feed and increase self-will.  Employees’ jobs depend on pleasing the rich owner or boss.  Friends and acquaintances work hard at obliging the rich person.  The rich person’s will is continually being indulged and thus strengthened; until eventually he or she is unable to submit to either God or men.  The rich inherit a great temptation to self-will.

 

Temptation to other sins.

 

Riches have a tendency to nourish every attribute which is contrary to the love of God.  But they have an equal tendency to feed every passion that is contrary to the love of our neighbor.  The rich are tempted to contempt, particularly to those who are inferior, and nothing is more contrary to love.  Or consider resentment of some supposed or real offense.  Perhaps even revenge, which God claims as His own peculiar prerogative.  But at least there is anger, for it easily arises in the mind of the rich, “What!  How dare they treat me this way!”  Related to anger is peevishness and irritability.  Are the rich guilty of these more than the poor?  Experience shows that they are.  The wealthy tend to be the hardest to please, considering any kind of less-than-perfect workmanship as a “cross to bear.”  They are the quickest to throw their weight around and insist that things be done over again–and right this time.  Ask any car wash attendant if this is true.  Peevishness and irritability are exceptional temptations of the rich.

 

Or consider how the rich are continually tempted to self-gratification, the opposite of self-denial.  Jesus “said to them all” (the whole multitude, not just the apostles only) “If any man will come after me,” (will be a real Christian) “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)  How hard a saying for those who are living the good life among their piled up possessions!  But the Scripture cannot be ignored.  Therefore, unless a man or woman does indeed “deny self” every pleasure which diverts pleasure in God, “and take up his cross daily,” (obeys every command of God no matter how contrary to the flesh) he cannot be a disciple of Christ; he cannot “enter the kingdom of God.”

 

Think further about this important idea of self-denial.  How many rich people in today’s church really do actually “deny themselves and take up their cross daily?”  How many rich church people do you know who resolutely abstain from every pleasure unless they know that it prepares them for taking greater pleasure in God?  Who of you who are now rich deny yourselves like you did when you were poor?  Who willingly endure labor or pain like you did when your net worth was nothing?  Do you fast now as often as you did then?  Do you rise early to pray now as you did then?  Do you endure cold, or heat, wind, or rain as cheerfully as ever?  Do you see one reason why so few increase in possessions, without decreasing in grace?  Because they no longer deny themselves and take up their crosses daily.  They no longer endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. 

 

“Go to now, you rich men!  Weep and howl for the judgments that are coming upon you;”  The “canker of your gold and silver” will be “a testimony against you,” and will “eat your flesh as fire!”  What a pitiful condition!  And who will help you?  You need someone to deal plainly with you.  But few will speak as plain to you as to one of your children or employees.  No one who hopes to gain by your favor, or fears losing by your displeasure will tell you the truth.  O that God would cause these words to sink deep into your hearts!  You have been a friend of the church, and have given when the Lord’s work was in special need.  Might we even say you love God’s work and his ministers?

 

Here is the word for you.  You know that it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  But it is possible with God.  Let your heart be whole with God!  Seek your happiness in Him alone.  Be careful to not cling to the dust of your riches.  “This earth is not your home.”  Work to use the world and enjoy God, rather than using God and enjoying the world.  Cling to all the things you possess as if you were a homeless refugee.  Be a good steward of the many gifts of God; so that when you are called forward to give an account, He will say “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!”

 

Blessed to be In His Grip again today~

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