Thursday, April 14, 2011
A heart of gold?
A rich young man approached Jesus and asks what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey all the commandments like do not commit murder, do not steal, honour your father and your mother, love your neighbour as yourself...
The young man says he does all those things.
“What else do I need to do?” he asks.
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was very, very rich.
We all know the mythological king Midas who loved gold so much that he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. And he got what he wished for. He turned everything to gold. Even his little daughter was turned into hard, solid gold. He could measure her weight in gold but the price was too high, even for this miser who would do anything for a few more bars of gold.
The Bible often warns us against avarice, a word which has lost its meaning in a world where materialism is the new religion. God knows that riches could become our Achilles heel because it buys status, social acceptance and success – all the things we think brings happiness. In principle the Bible is not against riches. We read in the Old Testament that God had bestowed fabulous riches on a number of biblical characters (such as Abraham, Solomon and Job). But He never intended for riches to be our god because it turns our hearts into solid hard gold.
Of course we need money to live and we need money to enjoy the fruits of our labour. But we also need to remember it's not ours to do with as we please. We are only the keepers of what belongs to God so that we can take care of those who do not have the ability or the talent to fend for themselves. Greed does not become believers. Greedy people exploit others to gain more riches and power.
The rich young man who came to Jesus didn’t believe that. And one has to wonder if he ever attained what he so desired: life eternal?