The Power of Possessions
Jesus was speaking to a young man who was blessed financially and had few concerns regarding material possessions and his financial stability.
“Now as Jesus was starting out on his way, someone ran up to him, fell on his knees, and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ʻDo not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.ʼ” The man said to him, “Teacher, I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws since my youth.” As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him and said, “You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But at this statement, the man looked sad and went away sorrowful, for he was very rich” (Mark 10:17-25 NET).
In the first century world, for a wealthy man to give up all his possessions (in this case, all his real estate) meant a demotion in social class. Were the wealthy man to have followed Jesus’ command, he would have not only lost the cushion of wealth but also experienced a social demotion and had to start a whole new life with a faith community that refused to make money or class the basis of its pecking order. So in effect, this rich young man’s priorities were the problem, not his possessions.
The Bible presents no data to support the idea that being wealthy is wrong. Ion fact, we find evidence tp the contrary.
Proverbs 10:22 NET “ The blessing from the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow to it.”
Scripture also offers many notable examples of godly, wealthy people — Job, Abraham, Nicodemus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Barnabas, and Philemon.
Do God does not disapprove of people with money. But He does speak out agains those who rely on riches, as this man did:
Proverbs 11:28 NET “The one who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”
Mark 10:23 NET “Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Amos and James in particular also warn against hoarding riches, exploiting the poor, and refusing to help those in need
Amos 4:1-3 NET “Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan who live on Mount Samaria! You oppress the poor; you crush the needy. You say to your husbands,
“Bring us more to drink!” The sovereign LORD confirms this oath by his own holy character: “Certainly the time is approaching when you will be carried away in baskets,
every last one of you in fishermenʼs pots. Each of you will go straight through the gaps in the walls; you will be thrown out toward Harmon.” The LORD is speaking!
James 2: 14-16 NET “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?
James 5:3 NET “Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure!”
It is our attitude toward our wealth that matters to God, because our attitude will determine how we manage the possessions He entrusts to us.