Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
Jesus 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. And 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. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:27-30
One morning on the way to school, my son Sam asked, “Dad, when we go to Heaven, how does our stuff get there?”
I told him, “Well, our stuff doesn’t go to Heaven.”
Sam seemed a little disappointed by that answer. While he was thrilled with the idea of having a body that would work entirely like it was supposed to and having ears that could hear without hearing aids, I think for a moment he was weighing out the benefits of Heaven with the loss of his “stuff.”
So, I told him, “When we get to Heaven, we get better stuff.” He seemed to like that idea.
Peter’s conversation with Jesus came on the heels of Jesus’ challenge to the rich young ruler to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:16-26). Now, while possessions in and of themselves are not good or evil, our attachment to them defines whether they are good for us. Jesus, being God, knew that this rich young ruler had an unhealthy attachment to his stuff. His possessions were in the way of his relationship with God. According to his own terms, the rich young ruler thought he was doing pretty well. Wouldn’t Jesus be proud of him? Jesus, then, carefully pointed out that even though the rich young ruler had his will under control, his affections were directed to the wrong place. His love for his possessions exceeded his love for God.
In what seems to be a prideful comment, Peter looks for Jesus’ approval by proclaiming, “We have left everything to follow you!” Essentially, he is saying, “We don’t have all of that wealth to burden us. See we’re better than that rich young ruler. We don’t have a dime to our name. What will there be for us? I’m sure it’s going to be good.”
Some have gone so far as to say that it’s more spiritual to be poor. If we’re unencumbered by earthly possessions, then certainly we are more closely connected with God. If that is true, then why is it that the poorest countries of the world with the most disease and starvation are often shrouded with the darkest evil and corruption? Poverty doesn’t make us more godly. God makes us more godly.
Jesus assures Peter and the others the “renewal of all things” is coming. One day everything will be made right. And, yes, those who have sacrificed for the cause of Christ will be rewarded. Speaking in their terms, Jesus promises that whatever they have given up will be given back 100 times over. But, even greater than that, they will have eternal life.
How is your relationship with your stuff helping or hindering your relationship with Christ? While we are free to enjoy the things of this world, pleasure does cross a line when it begins to substitute itself for what we can receive from God. Here’s the catch: while things can be enjoyable, they’re never fulfilling. That’s why we always want more. As you lean into God, you will discover that there is more than you will ever need.