The rich young man walked away from Jesus. Ever since he could remember, he had kept the rules. Done the right thing. He had attended all the festivals, associated with the right people, been seen by the great and the good. Yet, in just a few short words, Jesus had put his finger part of his life that was not up for discussion.
There was nothing wrong with having money, was there? He liked his nice clothes, he liked to look good. He enjoyed eating out at the top class restaurants, being seen in the right places. He had hot and cold running servants, well why not? At least it gave jobs to the poor.
There was the odd occasion when his income had dipped. Business plans not quite to schedule, investments not given the rate of return that was promised. Those were the times when his temper came to the forefront. Nobody would cross him in business. He could be a little ruthless at times, he admitted that, after all it was HIS money.
He looked at some of his friends. He saw what they had. The latest. The best. The new design. He wanted that too. After all it was HIS money.
What I think Jesus saw when he looked at the rich young man (Matthew 19 vs. 16 – 30) was somebody who was trapped. He was trapped by his wealth. We may think wealth is a nice problem to have, particularly if we are not overly rich by our societies standards. Jesus, however, challenges that concept because that young man’s identity had become wrapped up in what he owned not, in who he was.
After the rich young man has walked away Jesus then goes on to speak about the values of the Kingdom of God. Camels through the eye of a needle, first being last and the last being first. His kingdom does not seem to fit into our world view of success. He reminds us that God’s doesn’t always see things the way the world teaches us to see things. What the world says is of value is not necessarily what God says is valuable.
This was the passage I was reflecting on during my quiet time this morning. As I thought about the rich young ruler and Jesus response to His disciples questions I found myself thinking about a word that I do not hear very often. It was word “contentment”.
One of the ways that our world functions is through the power of consumerism. Consumerism creates a grey area between needs and wants. It can lead us to, selfishly, focus on self, whilst claiming to empower us. It can lead to greed and can be as addictive as any drug. For some people “retail therapy” is more than a joke, it has become their drug of choice!
The antidote to this problem is found in contentment. The Apostle Paul writes;
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4 vs. 11 13)
And to his friend Timothy, he writes;
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
(1 Timothy 6 vs. 6)
It seems, contentment will require us to challenge our current world view and seek God’s views, values and standards. So, as I thought about these words, I looked at my own life and asked some tough questions of myself. Am I satisfied with what I have or, am I always wanting more? Am I content or striving? What are the things I see valuable? What would make my life “complete”?
I took a few moments bring my answers to God and, maybe, you would like to do the same.
I then thought again about my own life and listed those things that I was grateful to God for today. As I did, I began to feel a real sense of contentment and gratitude for the many blessings that God has given to me.
Why not give it a go and try it for yourself?