How God Gets Camels Through a Needle’s Eye

Again I say to 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. – Matthew 19:24

How can God get camels through a needle’s eye, and what exactly is the difficulty to which this metaphor is referring? The context of this passage speaks volumes about the depravity of man and the grace of God. Jesus is talking privately to His disciples about the rich young ruler who walked away because his love for worldly treasures was greater than his love for the things of God. Jesus proceeds by stating that it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew Henry makes some interesting observations when he says, “The way to heaven is fitly compared to the needle’s eye, which is hard to hit and hard to get through. Secondly, a rich man is fitly compared to a camel, a beast of burden, for he has riches, as the camel has his load.”

Jesus tells us that the road to heaven is difficult by calling it narrow, and He reiterates it by relating it to the eye of a needle, but we must be careful what we call difficult, because we know we cannot work our way to heaven and our striving cannot add anything to our salvation. So what is the difficulty that is being revealed here? The problem stems from our fallen nature. Our nature at birth is at enmity with God and loves the world. We know that “if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 Jn. 2:15).” We also know if the love of the Father is in a person, then He has faith and therefore is saved. The difficulty is changing from a person who loves the world to one who loves the Father.

The rich man has twice the difficulty because he not only has to contend with his fallen nature but, like the camel, has heaped upon his back the burden of his riches, which his fallen nature clings to with iron clad shackles. The poor do not escape easily either because the world is full of charms, which our nature is bound to, but with wealth, we have greater means to pursue them.

The disciples are astonished at this teaching and respond with a serious question, “then who can be saved?” Jesus’ response is important because it is the key to salvation. He states, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” The difficulty of turning away from the world and breaking the fetters that bind us cannot be done by anything we do. In fact, because we are attached to the world with such a strong love for it, we do not desire to alter our affections away from it. The love of the world is in us and will never be removed without divine intervention, but, praise God, all things are possible with Him. He is the one who breaks the chains and places in us a love for the Father, and He never fails. Even if this work is being done in a rich man’s life, the love of the world, even with his passion for riches, will be conquered by the work of grace.

Salvation is the gift of God; no man in his fallen nature will ever turn his own heart to faith without God working it in Him. If we find ourselves desiring God over the riches of this world, praise Him because we could have never come to that point had God not wrought it in us. Riches, though not evil in themselves, are bindings that hold many out of the kingdom of God. May God do for us what is impossible for us to do ourselves.

Thoughts on Contentment – William Plummer

Are you ambitious for the things of this world_

When we become lifted up with pride, and think we deserve something good at God’s hands–it is impossible to satisfy us. But with the humble is wisdom, quietness, gentleness, and contentment. He who expects nothing, because he deserves nothing, is sure to be satisfied with the treatment he receives at God’s hands.

The proud man is like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. He is turbulent and fiery. He alienates friends; he makes enemies. He has much trouble and sorrow–where the humble man passes quietly along. Pride and contentment do not go together. Neither do contentment and carnal ambition.

“Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!” (Jeremiah 45:5)

Our actual needs are not many; but the ambitious create a thousand desires and demands, which are hard, if not impossible to meet.

He who is carnally ambitious, will not be content with whatever he gains, because each elevation widens his horizon, and gives him a view of something else which he greatly longs for. And so he is tossed from vanity to vanity–a stranger to solid peace.

Are you ambitious for the things of this world?
Then you are your own tormentor!

-William Plummer

Keep My Eyes From Worthless Things

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. – Psalm 101:3

Lord, our days are often spent looking upon worthless things, and this is a great sin. We ask for your forgiveness. This world is continuously setting them before us. From T.V. movies, and billboards, to social media, they seem to be everywhere we look. To make matters worse, our hearts often long for them. We are drawn to them to such a degree, that even if the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

We know, as you have told us, that the eyes are the windows to our souls. Where we direct them not only reveals the condition of our hearts but moves our hearts to desire what we look upon more earnestly.

Help us, Lord, to set our eyes on what is holy and worthy; to set our eyes on things unseen. For until we turn our eyes to what is truly beautiful and worthy, we will be held captive to the lesser things.

Lord, give us the strength to pull our eyes from the unholy distractions of this world and place them upon You. As we look to You, sanctify our hearts, so when the worthless things are once again before us, we will see them with holy eyes and immediately turn away.

Jesus, you are true beauty, and you are true worth. Be the center of all our thoughts and desires.  We love you.

Today, If You Hear His Voice

Today

The Lord is always speaking through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. He does so through His word, through the law written on our hearts, and through His providences. For the spiritually-minded believer, He is always there showing us the futility of the things of the world. It is all passing away, we are weak and broken, and He is eternally glorious. The problem is, we are often blinded by pride; our sinful nature is always at work.

Sin often makes us feel like we are the exception. Has the Lord prospered us? We look at our riches and take the credit, and if we were able to accomplish this, we will always be able to do so.  Do you have good health? Undoubtedly, if we keep doing what we have always done, it will continue. Right? Isn’t our destiny is in our hands?

Yet, day after day the Lord is reminding us of the futility of it all. From the calamities we see on the news, to the thorns we experience in our work, to something even as small as a broken shoelace, He is telling us that it is unreliable and our only hope and surety is Him. On the contrary, the world is always trying to tell us something different. The Prince and the Power of the Air has blinded millions to believe this world is the source of their joy and the place of their hope.

If you have heard these voices today, make sure you can tell the truth from the lies. Providences, and even the law written on our heart can be easily misinterpreted, we must have the Word of God dwelling in us richly. His word is truth.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 15-17

If the Holy Spirit has illuminated your heart to the truth of His word today, and He has reminded you of the futility of the world, do not harden your heart. Do not continue in its ways: earthly-minded. Draw closer to your Savior, and He will draw near to you. Be spiritually-minded. Be ready to give it all away, for only then, when it is all taken, for it will all be gone someday, your heart will not break as you stand upon your true Rock.

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, – Psalm 95: 7-8

When Pressing On Means Giving Up

I could hear the voices whispering, “Persevere, Don’t give up, You need to press on.” The only problem was I was fairly certain these were the voices of the enemy. I was torn because persistence is something to honor. A sense of despondency and joy burned within me at the thought of giving up several lifelong pursuits.

I knew it was the right thing to do. I needed to say goodbye to what I loved, because what I loved was toxic. It was like a destructive friendship. Friendships are to be cherished, and it always seems wrong to dissolve them, but when they are harmful, the appropriate thing to do is to bring them to an end.

I realized I had a long and unhealthy relationship with the world.  I loved it and was attempting to stake my claim and find my refuge in its kingdom. The revelation that these dark skies have open to me is that the things of the world can neither protect nor satisfy.

Faith has been awakened, and it is pointing my mind to things above.  I know at this point the way to press on is to bring all these worldly pursuits to a close.  I must say goodbye to these lifelong loves, and deep inside I can feel the heartache that will ensue. If left to myself, I will not have the strength to do it.  I will run back into their arms like a lonely man returning to an abusive lover.

I will persevere though, not because I have it in me, but because I am starting to realize that true perseverance in the things of God is not of myself.  I am, as Peter once said, being kept by the power of God through faith.  Christ Jesus has begun a work He has promised to complete. I know my old nature will not give up easily, and it may win a few battles as I am being conformed to His image, but I will press on, because He has promised to never lose His child.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. – 1 John 2:15

D. Eaton