According to Amazing Facts, there are more than 376 million Visas and MasterCards in circulation, family debts have doubled, hundreds of billions of dollars in credit card debt has accumulated, and these rates have shown growth at a 13 percent annual rate. That was back in 1999!
It seems consumers keep racking up debt at an alarming rate, even in the given economic situation we are facing. Why do people continue to spend so much money, and money we don’t even have. Perhaps we are looking for new ways to make ourselves happy.
On a related note, people are also workaholics-consumed by their careers and neglecting family responsibilities. And along with this trend of excess, extravagance, and estrangement from family, there is increasingly less focus on God and trust in His providence.
The Bible tells of the story of the Rich Young Ruler. It is an inspired account that tells us how to receive eternal life, what is involved in our Christian walk, and that our walk with Jesus is a continuous and advancing walk. It is also a sobering account that shows the the difficulty that money, wealth, and possessions pose to all people, and it shows the condition of many believers’ hearts.
The Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also. If we love money, if we treasure money, then our hearts are far from heaven.
The story of the rich young ruler can be found in Matthew 19:16-22. At the start we see a seemingly earnest seeker of truth. He asks of the Savior, “What must I do to be saved?”
To this, Jesus answers, “Obey the commandments.”
Can you imagine the delight this man must have felt at that moment? He stops and thinks over his life for a moment and concludes that he has done a good job at keeping the commandments of God. But just to be sure-or perhaps even just to stroke his ego a bit more-the man inquires, “Which ones?” The man, now begins to fully relish in his own accomplishments as Jesus refers to the Ten Commandments.
However, by the end of the account we read that the man went away sad. It is because Jesus then bursts his bubble, saying that there is still one thing he lacks-he treasures his possessions more than he treasures God. So it is with many people today.
An interesting point here is that the Bible doesn’t say the man didn’t go and give up his possessions and, as Jesus said, sell everything he owns and give to the poor. It simply says he went away sad. Perhaps he did give all he had and became poor because of the words of Jesus. But we know if he did, he didn’t do it for the right reasons. We know this because it says he went away sad. It wasn’t in his heart to do these things. It really doesn’t matter whether he did this or not. The message is clear-there is no room for selfish hearts in heaven. Nor would anyone with a selfish heart be happy in heaven.
So I ask the question, “Would we be happy in heaven without our possessions? Would we miss our iPods, our computers, our cars, our homes? Speaking of the wicked and unconverted, 19th and 20th Century writer Ellen White made the following statement in Steps to Christ:
“The sinner could not be happy in God’s presence; he would shrink from the companionship of holy beings. Could he be permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy for him. The spirit of unselfish love that reigns there-every heart responding to the heart of Infinite Love-would touch no answering chord in his soul. His thoughts, his interests, his motives, would be alien to those that actuate the sinless dwellers there. He would be a discordant note in the melody of heaven. Heaven would be to him a place of torture; he would long to be hidden from Him who is its light, and the center of its joy. It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.”
How could we be happy in heaven if it did not contain any of the things we love there? What if we felt moved by God to give away our material things and put Christ first as our most favored possession? Would we go away sad?