The Gospels – The Gospel According to Matthew
The advice to the rich young man
Matthew 19:16-21 And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” (17) And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments…… (21) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The advise to the rich young man as always has been misunderstood and many people have taken up this advice without any modification whatsoever and as such have brought tremendous suffering upon themselves. The advice given to the rich young man was for him personally. First Jesus told him to obey all the Commandments, then he said that he had obeyed all the Commandments, yet he felt that there was still something lacking, something that he had to do if he wanted to attain to the Kingdom of Heaven. This young man after examining his own soul was troubled enough to ask Jesus persistently about what he had to do. Jesus looked at him and knew exactly what the weaknesses of this young man were and gave him advice as to what he needed to do to address his peculiar condition.
He was to give up all his wealth because these had become an obstacle to him personally. They had become a hindrance. He had become so spiritually indolent as not to be able to rouse himself to do anything about his spiritual salvation. If then this was the case with this young man, then the best advice that Jesus could give was to get rid of what had become an obstacle to him which was his wealth. After all nothing is more important than the attainment of the Kingdom of Heaven. This young man and perhaps all those like him are the only ones to follow this advice. If one is able to control one’s wealth and use it in such a way that it brings blessing to mankind, then by all means they should be used that way. Why give away wealth when it can be used to good purpose in capable hands?
Matthew 19:22-26 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. (23) And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven……”
The eye of the needle does not mean literally an eye of a needle. Once more mankind has misunderstood one of Christ’s great sayings. It was a picture meant to show how difficult it would be for those who are not able to control their wealth like this young man to attain to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are so besotted with their wealth that it is this that they worship. It would indeed be very hard for them to bring forth the volition necessary for progress towards the Luminous Heights.
It is indeed the same with all those who are slaves to their wealth. The problem is their inability to arouse the will for something better. There are those of course who are able to do this and it would be unjust to ask these to give up their wealth when it could be put to good use in their capable hands.