Where Our Trust Must Be
This lesson is based upon an event that took place during the life of Christ on earth immediately following the discussion of the rich, young ruler. Jesus had just told the young man to forsake whatever it was that stood between him and God, even his riches, which was that which he put first. The young man went away from Jesus sorrowful because it meant he must place his confidence in something other than his wealth. This event gave rise to another teaching by Jesus concerning where our trust must be.
Mark 10:23-27, “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”
Notice the amazement of the disciples at the words of Jesus. Men are always amazed and astonished when taken out of their own little groove and have their world and vision enlarged. Many today, like then, are amazed to hear what Jesus advocated, what He stood for, what He proclaimed. Some are so shocked that they stagger in disbelief. This is because of their own finiteness and lack of knowledge and understanding. They are settled into their “ruts” and prejudices, traditions and pre-conceived notions, and when truth comes to them that vary from those things they are amazed. The doctrine of Jesus Christ is so simple, yet so profound, wonderful, and workable, those many who hear it for the first time are amazed. Like some who once were sent to seize Jesus, they come away saying, "Never man spake like this man.”
The primary theme of the teaching of Jesus here is one of trust. He first said it was difficult for those with riches to enter the kingdom. While they gave the appearance of well being, it was not so with them spiritually. Seeing the surprise of the disciples, Jesus enlarged His explanation and showed that He meant those who placed their trust in riches, like the young man who had just gone away sorrowful. One cannot trust in riches and have love for those things that are deserving of first place.
The message of Jesus has too often been limited in its application. This limitation has produced misunderstanding. Jesus is not casting an evil reflection on material things ju3t because they are material. This is not His teaching. Rather He shows that trust in worldly wealth, as if that meant security for the soul, was altogether incorrect. Was not that the grave mistake of the man in Luke 12? In that passage Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Paul wrote in First Timothy 6: 17 -19, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a qood foundation aqainst the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Earlier in that same chapter he wrote, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Jesus does not speak against riches, but teaches concerning our attitude toward the things that we have been given as a steward in this life. He shows the folly of placing so much concern on the material and how our emphasis should be on the things of the spirit.
Poor And Rich
Another mistaken notion some have developed from this passage is that Jesus' teaching is only to rich people. Who is a rich man? Wealth is not an absolute, but a relative matter. To some people anyone of us might be called rich. There are others that we might consider rich who do not consider themselves wealthy at all. Who is rich?
People like to apply this teaching to those who have more of this world's goods than they have, but exclude themselves. One can sin in trusting in little just as much as trusting in much. Love for fifty dollars is as evil as love for a thousand. The size of the purse does not determine what is right or wrong, but the attitude of the heart.
Furthermore, why should we limit the thrust of this teaching regarding trust to just material wealth? The sayings of Jesus are broader than that. We are not to place the welfare of our soul on anything else such as intellectual power and attainment. Many, having some arbitrarily determined academic degree, have assumed that they are "somewhat" and think all is well because they have that degree. It has been my experience over many years that more and more people who clamor for degrees (and I speak especially of the religious degrees) have less wholesome soundness than the average member of the church. Their learning may have gone to their head, but not in the way they think.
One should not rely on his social position in the community. What a tragedy that so many in the church are stampeded into seeking approval by the community more than remaining loyal to “thus saith the Lord.”
Many might think because they are physically exceptional that this automatically transfers into spiritual acceptability before God. That is a mistaken idea.
Possibly the most mistaken notion of all concerning this teaching is that it applies to somebody, but not me! These words are for each one of us. They are divine words that condemn placing trust where we ought not. They are not words that place a premium either on wealth or poverty but are concerned with what we place first in life.
While the application of the teaching is properly expanded to include more than wealth, we do want to underscore the danger of wealth. The more one has the more danger there is in placing his confidence there. Jesus is not advising poverty, for then you may become guilty of burying your talents that could be used for good. But because having wealth often brings a temporary satisfaction and contentment, and because it can deceive a person into thinking all is well (like the Laodecians), we have to be alert to its dangers. Luke 12:19-21, “And I will say to my soul, Soul thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth uptreasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Realizing from the words of Jesus that wealth cannot save, the disciples ask a question, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus had not taught that it was impossible for a rich man to be saved. Some of His followers and early Christians had possessions. Many of them sold fields and gave to the apostles, but while it was in their power they could do what they wished and would not have sinned. We read in the Old Testament, particularly, of wealthy men who faithfully served God even as they were wealthy, such as Abraham, Jacob, Job, David, and others. Jesus did show that it was difficult for rich men to go to heaven because they are the most likely ones to put trust in riches. Poor men, not having riches, are not as likely to trust in what they do not have anyway. He had taught that material prosperity could well bring spiritual poverty.
He illustrates His teaching with a camel and a needle's eye. It is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, just as it is impossible for a rich man, trusting his riches, to go to heaven. But if the rich man placed his trust In God, with God It was possible for him to be saved. Jesus makes it plain where a person's trust must be. Each person should say, as written on our coins, "In God we trust." This is what Jesus is saying is an absolute necessity for salvation.
One who expects to go to heaven must have the kind of confidence, trust, and faith In God that Paul expressed. Philippians 4: 13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We can be abased and abound; we can be hungry or filled; we can be at ease or suffer; we can go to heaven, but only by the strength of God. In Him must I place my trust.
Salvation is a gift of God (Romans 6:23). Peter told those on Pentecost, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” He did not say, “Save yourselves by yourselves,” for that is impossible. But there are those things that each one must do In order to receive the gift that God gives. Obedience is an essential part in God's plan for saving man.
Obedience is not just going through rituals without under- standing, sincerity, and commitment. It is doing what God says, the way God says do it, for the reasons God says do it.
The probing question confronting you and me is, “Where is our trust?” We can know where our trust must be. The only way that we can prove we trust God is by doing His will. We are the servants of what and who we obey (Romans 6: 16) .How can one say, “I love God,” but refuse to obey Him? (John 14:15; Luke 6:46) .By our refusal to obey we are saying to the Almighty, “I do not believe you; I will not obey you: what you have done is useless; and I will be no worse off by refusing.” You may not intend to be saying that, because putting in those words makes it sound so rebellious. But why is this not the way it really is?
Ask yourself, “Where is my trust?” When we have our trust where it ought to be, we will hasten to do what we ought to do.