Matthew 19:21 A wonderful reminder to ask ourselves if we are storing up treasures in heaven, or just here on Earth
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“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.””
Matthew 19:21 NASB1995
Of the many descriptions of the ministry of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew, one that stands out is Jesus talking to a rich young man who asks Him “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
“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.” 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; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man *said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?””
Matthew 19:17-20 NASB1995
And Jesus again replies with today’s verse. The young man hears the answer, and “went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” (Matthew 19:22)
We have to feel sorry for the rich young man, as he felt that material, earthly possessions were more important than eternal life! Likewise, we should feel convicted if we’re not doing enough to help those in need.
When Jesus enumerated the commandments to the young man, He cleverly left out the most important part of the Mosaic Law — the commandments that deal with man’s relationship to God. Looking at these commandments in a short form (listed in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5), they are 1) You shall have no other Gods before Me, 2) You shall not make idols, and 3) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Jesus asks the young man to forsake everything and follow Him; essentially putting God first in his life rather than possessions. Now, we can mistake this as applying to everyone (including ourselves), but Jesus never made this a command to all who would follow Him. He’s specifically asking it of this rich man whose possessions were blocking his discipleship. For those of us in this age who have wealth, we can do more for the poor by using our resources for the glory of God and the good of others.
Jesus called the young man to be His disciple using the same language He used to call others (for example, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22), “Follow Me!” (Matthew 9:9 and Mark 2:14). He wanted this man to be His follower, but sadly the young man had his heart set on riches, not on God.
Since he found himself grieving and conflicted after his talk with Jesus, I often wonder if the rich young man eventually found peace by following Jesus and using his wealth to help the poor and others in the early Christian church. We’ll never know, but Matthew 19:21 is a wonderful reminder to ask ourselves if we are storing up treasures in heaven, or just here on Earth.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear God, help me to be more like Jesus and to follow His example of selflessness and generosity. Give me the strength to let go of my possessions and to use them to help others in need. Help me to trust in You and to find joy in serving others. Thank you for your love and grace. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.