A Difficult Warning Indeed


A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Luke 18:18-30

In the book of Luke, Jesus communicates an important warning that we are often quick to overlook (or downright ignore):

“Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

In some ways, this warning may be as important to us as any other in the New Testament. But rarely do we meditate on what it means in our lives.

I think we are quick to overlook this warning for three reasons:

  1. Most of us don’t think we are among the “rich.”
  2. It’s easy to think this warning is just about getting into heaven.
  3. The ramifications of this truth in our lives are incredibly significant.

But the reality is that almost everyone reading this post is among the rich. And we should consider this truth a direct warning to our individual lives.

If you make $50,000/year, your income puts you in the top 2% worldwide—even an annual income of $20,000 puts you in the top 10%.

We are rich. And it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for us to enter the kingdom of God. We should probably pay attention.

It is easy, I think also, to confuse the Kingdom of God with heaven. It’s easy to read this warning of Jesus, directed at the Rich Young Ruler who had just walked away from Him, and think to ourselves, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me. I have put my faith in Jesus and am saved by His grace. I know I am going to heaven. So this verse must be directed at rich people who have not accepted Him.”

But living life squarely in the Kingdom of God today and getting into heaven after the Judgement are two different things. One can be saved, but still miss out on the calling and blessing of living in the Kingdom today if we are not allowing God’s Will to be done in our lives.

Again, this verse does apply to our daily lives.

I know the significance of this warning is great and probably takes a lifetime to fully understand—especially considering how difficult it is for the rich to live in this truth. But nothing is impossible with God.

For those with earthly means, learning to live in the center of God’s Kingdom today will require humility—which is not easy for those with wealth. It will require intention each day to pull our eyes and attention off the things of this world and onto Christ. It will require us to identify and overcome the deception of riches. And it will require us to no longer use our money to gather earthly treasures, but heavenly ones.

Difficult indeed.


Heavenly Father, it is my desire to walk fully in your Kingdom. Teach me what that means and give me the strength to accomplish that. May nothing that this world offers distract me from you in any area of my life. Amen.