The Jews have seen riches as an indication of God’s blessings. But Jesus makes riches one of the major barriers to entering the Kingdom of Heaven. When the rich ruler turned away from Christ because of his unwillingness to surrender all his wealth to follow Jesus, He said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. “ Then, he adds in Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The figure of speech of the camel and the needle’s eye, emphasizes the difficulty of surrendering all for Jesus when one has much wealth. This is not a problem for the poor. They have everything to gain and very little to lose. They have a better view of themselves and their need for God.

I expect that it really isn’t a matter of what we have or what we don’t have. Rather it’s the way we see ourselves and how we value what we’ve got. Jesus once said, “Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be.” If we value what we have on earth, whether little or much, above the Kingdom of God, we’ll never follow Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. If we see ourselves as poor and needy, we’re anxious for what He offers.

God is busy in the life of the rich young ruler and he’s busy in our lives making us aware of our misplaced values and the true condition of our hearts so that we might change our perspective on what is of the greatest value in life. He does this at times through personal confrontations as He did with the rich young ruler, and sometimes he brings circumstances in our lives that make us aware of what matters most. It may include painful experiences. You see, as Jesus explains to his disciples, getting a camel through the eye of a needle is impossible for man, but God can do it and he often does. C. S. Lewis said that God can bring a camel through the eye of a needle, but the camel will not be the same creature after coming through a needle’s eye!

“But Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26