“When JESUS heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ” – Luke 18:22 ESV
By definition, “socialism (so·cial·ism) is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole:
- A policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
- (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.“
People have taken this passage in Luke (and others) to advocate socialism as a way of life for all Christians. I don’t believe that that is what JESUS is saying. This verse, as well as all of Scripture, must be read in context, because any action – any action – can be justified by taking a verse or two out of context. We have to be on guard about this! Using this case, I don’t see JESUS espousing socialism for the whole. He is speaking to one individual about his life. We don’t know why JESUS told the young man to sell everything and give it to the poor, just that in this instance, it was what the LORD required. He might require it for you or me, and He might not. Much good can be done with wealth (money or time), but wealth can also be a hindrance to our lives with CHRIST. As Christians, our concern should be to search the scriptures for the message to each of us as individuals. We can’t expect non-Christians to understand, because as Paul says:
“For the Word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of GOD.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
But for us, those of us who are coming to Christ and those who are already in Christ, the Word is where He shows His Will for us to follow. For unbelievers who are without GOD’s Love, the Word, when we share it, is like “a clanging gong:”
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
We can try to reach the lost by creating a socialist society with everyone on the same financial footing, or we can glorify our GOD for the diverse talents He has given us, and give thanks for the different paths He has set us on. Our blessings don’t come from following a way of life set out for us by the enemy – and if it doesn’t come from GOD, it comes from the enemy! Whether the path GOD puts us onto is a life of missions, or selling everything and giving it to the poor, or serving in some capacity in His church; using wealth to help those in need; or being the best wife and mother – or husband and father – that we can be, as long as we are on GOD’s path and in His Love we will be overflowing with blessings.
“But You, O LORD , are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head.” – Psalms 3:3 ESV