Is “stuff” getting in my way?

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Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

In Jesus’ day it was assumed that a wealthy person was one who had been rewarded by God for their goodness and righteousness. So it’s shocking to hear Jesus say it’s hard for such people to enter the kingdom of God. Why is that? It’s not that God has a problem with people of means, but rather it’s hard for such people to let go of their “stuff” to pursue life with God on a deeper level.

While I do not consider myself “rich”, I have come to understand a little about the reality of acquiring, maintaining, protecting, and even giving away material things. In my experience, the more “stuff” you have the more time and energy it often takes to manage it. And even though I probably spend more time per day investing in my relationship with the Lord than most people (I’m a pastor, after all) I still invest an inordinate amount of time each day keeping up with material things: finances, a home, vehicles, insurance, investments, and so on. It’s easy for my priorities to get out of whack. That’ just the honest truth.

So this morning I’m being challenged by our passage. How am I letting “stuff” get in the way of my relationship with the Lord? How about you?

Lord give us grace to put you first. Show us where our priorities are mixed up and bring us closer to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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