"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
As with many of us, we place too much importance on things that are meaningless if we live kingdom-minded rather than earthly-minded. Sure, if you only live for this world, wealth can get you places, can buy you great things and place temporary happiness in your life. However, for those who live kingdom-minded, (that is, putting into action the instruction of the Lord while living on earth, being prepared for heaven, advancing the gospel, and storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven) wealth isn't much. Yes, of course it will still get you places and buy you great things, but it can (and often does) rob your heart from where it belongs. When you accept Christ, and decide to follow Him, it means laying down your life to follow Him- all that you are, all that you have, all that you know, all that you dream of. It means surrendering to His ways, His plans, His purpose. It doesn't mean that all your hopes and dreams, all your possessions and all that you are are tossed in the trash, but rather, Jesus gives you a new hope, a new desire, a new purpose and He might even build on goals and things you already have! When you choose to follow Jesus, you must be willing to give up all that you have. When Jesus called the disciples, they left all that they owned, all that they knew, their families- to follow Jesus.
For the rich young man, his wealth was too important to him. His security was in his wealth, so much that he couldn't let it go to follow Christ. In my opinion, and I'm sure the opinion of many other believers, money is thing that wages war against peoples' hearts the most. That's why I believe Jesus says in Matthew 6:24~ "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." In the world, money becomes the security of many, in otherwords, it becomes their god. They work hard for it, they steal for it, they save it, they spend it, they love for it, they quarrel with family members over it, they pretend they have plenty of it, they become a slave to it. Many people, if Jesus said, "Sell all that you have, give to the poor and follow me," would say, "No way! What would I do? Who will I be? What will I have? How will I survive?" That is the attitude the rich young ruler had, and that is why he chose not to follow Jesus, but rather his wealth.
Although money is probably the most common, I believe many of us (including believers) have one thing, or more, that has a bit of our hearts. If Jesus came to you and said, "I want that, all of it, if you are going to follow me," what would be the thing(s) that you would wrestle or try to talk your way out of surrendering? As you mature in your walk with Jesus I believe you begin to be more aware of the things that rob your heart. For me, it is also wealth. Although I am not in any financial sense, wealthy in comparison to other people in North America, I would have a hard time if Jesus said, "I want you to be content if you had less." I know part of my heart desires to not be rich necessarily, but to be comfortable. It's not a sin to have enough money for comfort, but it is a sin if you are letting it be your functional savior. For me, I place too much of my pride, security and identity in what my home looks like, how we eat at our dinner table, what we can or cannot afford, etc. I can tell God has been pruning this sinful area in my life since I haven't been working (3 years ago) because on one income, we had to downsize our budget, which included what our home looks like, how we eat at our dinner table and what we can and cannot afford. It was hard for me at first when my husband would say, "I'm sorry hunny, we just can't afford that right now." I guess, I really didn't ever want to hear those words. But trust me- I've heard it many times in the last 3 years! And you know what? It's been okay! I've learned to be content with less- including one car, which Joey takes to work everyday. God has used this season to purify my heart that I might give Him more of me. I'm not gonna lie, I still struggle with it once in awhile, I know where my flesh wrestles with my spirit. But unlike the rich young man, I decide, daily, to surrender all that I am, all that I have and all that I hope for to Jesus, because I would rather follow Jesus and have nothing than have anything and everything and not know Him.
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"