Vol.XVI No.IV Pg.4
June 1979

Gaining Much, Losing All

Robert F. Turner

A "rich young ruler" came to Jesus and asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Not only did Christ's reply cause the young ruler to "go away sorrowful," but his statements caused some uneasiness in his disciples as well. "And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?" (Luke 18:18-26)

Solomon said, "For as he thinketh within himself, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). In other words, a person's attitudes will greatly influence his actions — his way of life. Christ tried to instill this truth in the minds of his disciples. In the incident with the young ruler, the riches alone did not prevent the young man from heeding the words of Christ. It was his attitude toward those riches that placed a barrier between him and God.

Our attitude toward material possessions will determine whether or not they stand between us and God. I was taught that a gun can either help you or harm you — depending upon how you use it. And so it is with material gain: it can be an aid to our service to God or a hindrance to our fulfilling our responsibilities to Him. Our earthly goods can just as easily be a distraction of Satan as they can be a blessing from God. The determining factor will be our attitude toward these earthly possessions.

The materialistic society in which we live promotes the idea of gaining as many possessions as possible. Success in life is measured by how much man can accumulate. Many brethren now have the attitude that working to pay for that new home, car or boat is more important than teaching the lost and meeting with the saints! Their contribution consists of what little (if any) remains after the bills have been paid. Christ said to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (material necessities) shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). God knows our needs and will meet them if we put Him first. And as someone once told me — what we think we need and what God knows we need may be two different things

Jesus warns us of the subtle sin of materialism. The man who coveted his own possessions in Luke 12:16-21 allowed materialism to rule his life. God finally said, "Thou this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" Paul reminds us in 1 Tim. 6:17 to put our trust in God and not in uncertain riches. An honest appraisal of both our time and financial contributions will tell us where we place our trust.

So many people in our day are failing to prepare for eternity. As with the rich young ruler, they too cannot let go of their material goods. Hours are spent in pursuit of carnal pleasures with little or no thought given to godliness. We must adopt the attitude of Paul who learned "both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want" (Phil. 4:12).

Do we have an attitude of placing God first in our lives? Or, would we also "go away sorrowful" if Christ asked us to sell all that we have and follow him? Kevan O'Banion