I can’t even remember the first time I learned about the wealthy family with the last name Rockefeller. A man by the name of John D. Rockefeller co-founded a company back in the 1800’s called Standard Oil. Not long after founding it Standard Oil, by some estimates, controlled over 90% of the oil industry. Mr. Rockefeller was the first American to have a net worth in excess of one billion dollars, and that was in the late 1800’s early 1900’s! Despite his extraordinary net worth, Rockefeller was once asked how much money is enough. His response was “just a little bit more”. How telling that the richest man in the world at his time wasn’t even satisfied with how much he had.
Now I have to be honest, I have no idea what John Rockefeller would have believed when it came to matters of faith. What I can tell you is that most of us would be like him in our answer of how much is enough. Some may deny it, but the truth is that most of us have this “I want more” mindset.
We live in a world of “more”. We go to a restaurant, and part of our measurement of how good it was, is how generous the portions are. We want to get our “money’s worth”, we say. In fact some want such large portions they just simply avoid the standard restaurant and head for the buffet. You can always get more at the buffet. Consider another example: have you seen the size of some of these Monster Trucks lately? It’s all about more. You have a home on a half acre lot, and what do you want? You want a home on a full acre lot. Those with a full acre, want 10 acres, and so on…. We always want more.
This love for money, this desire for “more” is nothing new. In Jesus day, there were plenty of people who desired “more”. In fact, in the book of Luke chapter 18 in the New Testament of the Bible, we read about a “rich young ruler”. Everything that we know about this person defines him as young, powerful and rich. As Luke tells the story, this young man came running up to Jesus to ask him how to get eternal life. We could argue at great lengths about what level of spiritual interest this young man had. What I am convinced of, though, is that this guy heard about something that he didn’t have and figured that of all people he should have it. It was a case of, “I thought I had everything this world has to offer, and so I should have that too.”
This rich young ruler didn’t really know who Jesus was. The young man refers to Jesus as “good teacher”. A nice enough title, but in my opinion more motivated to butter up Jesus in hopes of striking a deal. But Jesus knew this young man’s desire. Jesus, as with each of us knows our heart. The young man didn’t really want an eternity with God he just wanted “more”. If he really wanted an eternity with God in heaven all he had to do was what Jesus asked him to do – sell everything he had and follow him. Oh, how like us! This rich young man walked away sad because he loved the things of this world more than the idea of an eternity in heaven.
This column is called “reflections” and so it is worth while for each of us to reflect on our life with the question that this story is really asking. Where is our heart? What things do we value? Do we value material things more than eternal things? Are we prepared to prioritize our eternal destiny over and above our temporal situation here in this world?
Fortunately for us, we don’t need to necessarily sell everything we have in order to follow Jesus. We do however need to put Jesus in first place. We do need to surrender our lives to Him. We need to trust in Him for our souls and not in our wealth.