[After the rich young man left rather than sell his possessions and follow Jesus,] Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I'll say it again — it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"
— Matthew 19:23-24 NLT
The radical nature of Jesus' words is indicated by two attempts through the years to soften them. Some later translations of this passage have "rope" instead of "camel." (The two words look and sound somewhat similar in the original Greek.) Later speculation led to the myth of a gate in the walls of Jerusalem called "The Needle's Eye." Neither of these is true. Both, however, reveal how hard it is for an affluent culture to hear the radical demand of Jesus' words.
Jesus is emphatic: It is extremely difficult for the rich to embrace the radical call of discipleship in the Kingdom of God. But, salvation does not depend on our ability, but on God's generous grace. The key point for us, however, is to be reminded about the dangers of wealth and possessions. They can become our god, our stumbling block, our choking point, our diversion, and our downfall if they become the things we cannot give up to follow Jesus. From our vantage point, following Jesus' radical call is impossible. Fortunately, God has provided the Holy Spirit and fellow-Christians. We all need the guidance of the Spirit and the strength of a dedicated Christian community to yield to Jesus' call in all areas of our lives, including using our wealth and possessions to serve others.
Only living and almighty God, I want to worship you with my will, my words, and my possessions and money. Please help me to use the incredible blessings you have poured into my life for your glory and the blessing of others. In the name of Jesus, the greatest of all gifts, I pray. Amen.