A Camel Through the Eye of a Needle

One night about a week ago, Marc and the older boys were out for men’s Bible study, so I was sat down for evening devotions with the younger children. I had just been practicing sewing with the girls, so I thought it would be a good time to read and discuss the story of Jesus and the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30:

16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
18“Which ones?” the man inquired.
Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”
20“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

We focused on Jesus’ statement, ” it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” because we had just been sewing and I thought it was a good object lesson. I asked, “How easy was it for you to put a small piece of thread through the eye of the needle?” (Not easy–they still needed some help from me!) So I asked, “How easy do you think it would be for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle?” (They simply laughed at this idea.)

Going deeper, I asked, “What do you think it means to be rich?” And my five year-old very quickly replied, “It means to have a lot of stuff!” After another few seconds of thought, she waved her arms emphatically to show all that was in the living room and said, “You know…like US!”

Now, I don’t consider us rich. At all. We are nine people in a 1400 square foot house, and we intentionally sold many of our possessions last year when we moved into this home, pretty much in obedience to Jesus’ teachings here. I know we still have a ways to go…and, I know that we are filthy rich compared to people in other parts of the world. So it was a little convicting for my five year-old to say that she still considers us rich. As we continued to talk about Jesus’ words, we were challenged by the thought that our accumulating material possessions could keep us from entering the Kingdom of heaven.

It’s easy to justify accumulation and materialism by saying, “It’s not what we possess, it’s our heart that counts.” Or, “it’s OK to have things, as long as you’re not attached to them.” But what happens if we take Jesus’ words at face value?

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

4 thoughts on “A Camel Through the Eye of a Needle

  1. Been thinking a lot about this very same thing lately. I have gotten to Chapter 5 in Francis Chans book Crazy Love where he speaks of the rich of America, by definition in comparison the rest of the world. How we make SO MUCH MORE money in one day than many people make in a lifetime. Quite humbling to evaluate the idea that no matter what America says our financial status is, we ALL are rich. That no matter how small of a house we have compared to family size it is always way larger and more luxurious than that of those in 3rd world countries.
    It also begs the question of if this is the case and are we not suppose to be storing up treasures on earth, why the 401K and other fail-safes we rely upon? Love Dave Ramsey and have followed much of his advice in regards to stewardship but now I question much of his long term financial planning is biblical? Still trying to balance being wise in planning and being a good steward of the right now knowing that God will provide daily bread and maybe our 'planning money' is someone elses daily bread? That we are blessed through blessing others. Anything that keeps us at the Lord's feet for guidance is a blessing! Glad you shared this today!

  2. We would have to agree with you on the "401K and other fail-safes." 🙂

    Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21).

  3. I have read this passage I don't know how many times and I just always though of what America sees as rich people. Never once thought of myself in that description. But about two weeks ago I read it and I almost cried when I realized, I am rich. We are rich, very rich. The richest country in the world but we think we are poor if we don't make as much as the next guy. We have been so brainwashed into thinking we should earn more to buy more and have more! If we do earn more we should GIVE more.
    We trust our money and things when we should trust God. Our faith is drawn toward earthly things instead of heavenly when we have lots of stuff.
    Until reading this post it didn't even cross my mind about the 401k's and such. Wow.
    Oh that our thinking would line up with Gods word and not mans!

    So about the salvation part. How does this line up with your belief in salvation? I have recently been struggling with what I have always been taught about salvation after hearing about limited atonement and other ideas including losing your salvation.

  4. Amanda,
    I would love to send you some resources if you're interested. Can you email me directly at info (at) valuesdrivenfamily (dot) com? Thanks!

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