Why did Our Lord tell the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor? Was the young man being encouraged to be charitable or generous? Or was he being asked to root out self-reliance? Simply following the rules doesn’t get you into the kingdom of God.
We all remember Our Lord’s words from Saint Matthew’s Gospel: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). This was a hard saying for the disciples to understand. Wealth was considered by many to be a sign of God’s favour. So if this chap, who clearly enjoyed God’s blessing, could not enter the kingdom, then who could?
I read somewhere that the “eye of a needle” was a very small gate into the city of Jerusalem. In order for camels to make it through that gate, they had to lower themselves to their knees and crawl through. The merchants also had to remove baggage that got in their way. Our Lord was asking the man to give up his material attachments, just as the camel needed to let go of its excess baggage. Our Lord was asking the man to trust in God for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, not in the blessings of his wealth.
If we want to enter eternal life, we need to lower ourselves to our knees in prayer and humility. We need to acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ and the power of his salvation—a salvation that only comes through faith and baptism.
So let’s get rid of whatever extra sinful baggage is hindering our spiritual growth. Let’s commit our lives to Our Lord anew every morning, confessing our need for him and letting go of any sense of self-sufficiency that still clings to us. Let’s strive for the perfection that comes only by faith in Christ Jesus so that we, too, can know his power to save and sanctify.