If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19: 21)
Is Jesus against stuff? Some issues with Jesus are quite simple, some not. What Jesus thinks about stuff is complicated.
Again, is Jesus against stuff? There are actually two answers to this question. Jesus isn’t against stuff if we keep our possessions in proper perspective. He is, though, against our possessions when they become more important than our relationship with God.
A rich young man comes to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (19:16). Initially, Jesus doesn’t seem inclined to engage him, so He tells him to “keep the commandments.”
The man then asks, “Which ones?” Jesus then recited many of the commandments.
The man still wasn’t satisfied. So, he pressed on: “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”
Although the man had faithfully followed the commandments, he still felt like something was lacking in his relationship with God. Although he may have had everything money could buy, there was still something missing.
Jesus tells the rich man to “sell all of his possessions and give money to the poor” because He discerned that the man’s possessions mattered more to him than God. The man proved that Jesus was right, for he walked away from following Jesus.
Jesus will not play second fiddle to our stuff. He knows that when we have a hard time sharing our possessions, we no longer own them, but they own us. Listen to his clear admonition about our things: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6: 24).
If this rich young ruler was going to have a “perfect” relationship with God, Jesus told him that he had to give away his things. If we’re going to have a “perfect” relationship with God, what would Jesus encourage us to do with our stuff?
- What would Jesus have you do with all of your stuff? Would He like you to share some of it?
- The man’s commitment to his possessions was going to make it hard for him to follow Jesus. Is there anything in your life that makes it hard for you to do so?
- I wrote that “Jesus will not play second fiddle to our stuff.” Is Jesus playing the first fiddle in your life right now? If not, is it time to rearrange your commitments so that He is?