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“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 18:25). Unfortunately, many Christian religions and denominations use this verse to warn their flocks away from being rich. As a result many have interpreted and added extra meaning to this verse; to almost mean – being rich automatically excludes and being poor, provides “automatic” access to heaven.
Automatic access is only based on John 3:16…God gave his beloved Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Be encouraged.
Neither economic poverty or riches can automatically exclude anyone from entering the kingdom of heaven. As explained in John 3:16 – ALL are required to “believe” in Jesus the Christ to enter eternal life.
But confusion about the difficulty of a camel entering the eye of a needle abounds… Does this mean the very ownership of “riches” can exclude you from heaven? God forbid. So what does it mean then?
Ok here is it. Let’s read the full chapter and not just the verse and let’s see…. Read (Luke 18).
Now one clue to understanding this is to pay attention to how the young man is identified. His name wasn’t given, his status (character) was given – the Rich Young Man!!! Keep this in mind as we progress.
“You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ ” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
Jesus introduces the commandments. Now remember, if you break one commandment, you are guilty of breaking them all…!! Remember this…
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 18:20-22 | NIV
You know what happens after that. The first commandment instructs us to love the Lord our God with all out heart, mind and soul. He essentially asks the young man to demonstrate his love of God with all his heart and soul, by selling all he has and follow Him. As we now know, this rich young man failed the first commandment test, he clearly loves his riches more than he loves God.
Our LOVE is to be reserved for God only. Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul? Yes, then brilliant. However if not, it doesn’t matter what your economic condition is, rich or poor, you’re gonna have serious problems entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
What’s interesting, Jesus establishes “entering” the kingdom of heaven as the objective. Is the kingdom of heaven a spiritual or physical kingdom? It’s spiritual. So the statement, it’s easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was using a physical camel analogy to make a spiritual point about our love, which has to be reserved for God and who exists in spirit.
How do we know the above is true. “Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; LIFE does not consist in an abundance of possessions’. Luke 12:15. The acquisition of “more” is an affliction of men and women, rich and poor alike. People in both poverty and greed, make decisions that break the first commandment.
That teaching the camel the needle and the kingdom of heaven is about our priorities – who do you love first and foremost? Clearly Jesus is warning against making anything in our physical life on earth a priority above our Love for God and our spiritual LIFE in eternity.
So what does all this mean? We need to get our “Eternal LIFE” priorities in the correct order. First should be our love for God, second should be the requirements for our physical life. Because we do not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.