Is this verse supposed to be interpreted literally? I obviously don’t mean things crucial for living, but rather ones like books, etc.
This was a special situation in which Jesus called a rich young man to sell all he had to come be one of Jesus’ disciples, perhaps an Apostle, like St. Paul–we cannot know what wondeful things that young man might have done for the Kingdom of God. Generally the Church applies this verse to religious who do give up everything to enter their order. It’s not usual for a lay person to do it, although some have. It’s God’s special calling.
Having said that, there’s certainly nothing wrong and all to the good to declutter one’s life. To get rid of all the excess baggage, physical, emotoinal, mental, spiritual, etc. in order to serve God and our neighbor better. That is how the Church generally applies this verse to lay peoples’ lives.
I don’t want to downplay this question because, yes, I literally interpret this as “sell everything” or “give up everything” or “have nothing.” When I think about the first apostles I think about how they dropped what they were doing, left all their worldly possession, and gave up their previously lives to follow Him. If we did this today we would need to be brought into some system like the Church which receives tithes from the faithful… Or we would end up being couch surfers! lol
There is also another layer to this however… To “empty oneself” or “die to self” which means to literally have a new life in Christ. Your body, your mind, your spirit are offered to Him and His divine will. We do this by acknowledging Him as our savior and Lord daily and resisting the world and temptations. We do this following His commandments and carrying our cross.
Whatever route we choose we must, at a minimum, empty oneself. I heard in a homily recently that when we attend church on Sundays we bring all that we are, all that we have, and place it on the alter… Maybe not physically place it there, but truly partake in the sacrifice by offering your whole life, and everything you have to Him who has saved you. We tithe, we live honorably, we love, we give thanks for all that we have, we share and we love The Lord with all that we are and have.
I would not interpret that literally.
I tried to give up almost everything, more than once. There were times when it helped me, made cleaning easier, for example.
However, what ended up happening is that I ended up having to buy that all back later, anyway.
I had a friend who gave up all his stuff around the same time. He left his job and gave up his stuff. He had creditors hounding him, constantly. He would stay and housesit and petsit, moving from house to house.
I tried even living at a low level. I rented a very cheap apartment here in Mexico. The first time, it was just so bad that I couldn’t stand it, lasted less than a month. I was stolen from, small things like shampoo, since I shared a bathroom. I would be afraid to leave anything in the bathroom, since it would/could be taken.
The next place, there seemed to be both prostitution and drugs. Again, I was gone within a month. All I did to install a phone and change of address was in vain. It fried my nerves.
So, I’ve since rethought this entire idea of having nothing. I got a nicer apartment in a nicer section, paid more. I got things…not excessive, but I have a refrigerator and such.
It was educational to try living with little, but in today’s times, it’s quite hard to live without anything.
I ended up compromising, because where I was living before was so bad. It wasn’t even safe. I have a disability, and it didn’t have the extras I really ended up needing. I needed special accommodations, and the other places wouldn’t work with me.
Where I am now, I don’t own a car, but I also don’t need/want one. It’d actually be hard to find a place to park it here in the city.
I live very simply in the sense I try not to have a lot of extras. I don’t own a TV, but I don’t need one. I do almost everything online.
I don’t even have a dryer here. Often, there’s no hot water. There’s no hot water in the kitchen. There’s no heat, no a/c, just fans.
I’m okay with all this most of the time, usually don’t feel I’m missing much.
I’m more practical now with that saying in scripture. Christ probably did mean that literally to the person he said it to, since the disciples did go with him, and God provided for everything.
I just wouldn’t recommend doing that literally in today’s times. I’d just say not to become overly attached to material things, to use them and enjoy them, but not to possess too much, or too little.
Forsake worldly pursuits for those of a spiritual nature. Not only do we own, but we are owned by the materialistic.
Yes it is suppose to be interpreted literally - but also in context. Let’s take a look at the context. (Matthew 19)
16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good.** If you would enter life, keep the commandments.**”
Note here - there is no mention of giving away his wealth to enter eternal life - only keeping the commandments.
18 He said to him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?”
Now - look here - the rich young man could have stopped there but he feels called to more…so read on…
21 Jesus said to him,
“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
When one feels called to something more for the glory of God then God may very well respond with a challenge. This is what happened here.
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell 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.”
Now note - - Jesus originally told the young man just to “keep the commandments”. So it seems his riches would not keep him out of heaven. So where is the problem? It is in the attachment to the possessions…not in the possessions themselves.
It is true that we should live simply - this helps us a great deal. but it does not mean that we are ALL called to “Sell everything you have…”
Hope this helps a little
I think we all may be surprised if we actually did this…God said many times, he would provide for all our needs IF we only gave ourselves to him and had faith.
Just imagine if 100s of 1000s of people in the US did this? I think this would be great, many of the greedy companies who are constantly trying to get people to spend money, would have to close up or drastically change, and hopefully it would be a domino effect!
I hope one day we can live in a world like this…I think if enough people did this, we would see God acting more in our world and not just small subtle ways, Im talking about definite, for sure, it WAS an act of God!!