Preaching through Matthew has provided the opportunity to address many current issues facing those who gather at the church house. Jesus addresses the subject of addiction in relation to wealth in the last part of chapter 19. Addiction is an enslaving lifestyle which leaves the addict with only two choices; freedom or enslavement. The chains of addiction are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Matthew 19:22. This verse reveals the effects of addiction. It says, “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” It wasn’t the great possessions the young man owned which makes this such a tragedy. It was the fact the possessions owned the young man. This is the problem with any addiction. The source of the addiction becomes the master and the user becomes the slave.
I was once in the residence of a man of extreme wealth. At that time he was one of the richest men in the United States. His wife later confided in me that she would give up all their wealth if the love of Jesus would flow through their home like it once did. With all the opulence this family represented it was a glaring testimony to the poverty of their riches.
A person of wealth is often envied until the deficiency of their character is exposed. Riches will purchase plenty, but not peace; riches will give you an abundance of possessions, but no appetite to enjoy them; riches will provide the best health insurance, but not insure good health; riches can buy a big house, but not a big home; riches can open many doors, but the hinges upon which they swing are often made of fool’s gold; riches can silence accusing tongues, but not an accusing conscience; riches can multiply our belongings, but often reduce our values.
The rich young ruler came at the right time. He came to the right person. He asked the right question. He received the right answer. He made the wrong choice. So does anyone who chooses their addiction over Jesus.
As parents we are responsible for guiding our children in the choices they make. The only addiction which will insure both abundant and eternal life is our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. This choice will insure that they do not walk away sorrowful because of their great possessions.