In the 1946 Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, the antagonist is a greedy real estate owner, Mr. Potter. Daring to stand up to the powerful man, George Bailey says, “You think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn’t.”
In Luke 18, a rich ruler paid a visit to Jesus. The man asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). He addressed Jesus as “good teacher” out of respect. In his world, earthy credentials were esteemed. But before Jesus answered his question, He rejected the title. “No one is good—except God alone” (v. 19). Then Jesus directed the ruler back to the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12–16), specifically the final five, which address how we love our neighbor. Like many wealthy individuals, this man prioritized his possessions over people.
In defense, the rich ruler claimed he had followed these commands since childhood. He saw himself as sinless. But Jesus continued, turning his attention indirectly to the early commandments: to love the Lord above all else. He challenged the man with this specific instruction: “Sell everything you have and...follow me.”
Ultimately, the challenge Jesus gave was not a financial request. It was a heart check. In what did this man put his trust? The ruler was sad. His identity was so tied to his wealth that he couldn’t fathom parting with it. Seeing his sorrow, Jesus commented on the powerful pull of earthly fortune.
The disciples were a bit concerned. Peter asked if they had satisfied the “leave everything” requirement. Jesus assured them that anyone who puts the kingdom of God above all else will be blessed by God in this life and for eternity.
>> It is easy to put our trust in our wealth. But Jesus challenges that idea. How does that change the way you view your finances? In this season of giving, consider putting your faith into action by generously supporting God’s work.
Any earthly wealth we possess we owe to You, Lord. You give and take away. You provide for our needs, whether our bank accounts are full or empty. If our allegiance is not fully Yours already, make it so, we pray. We want to put You first.