It is not a sin to be wealthy. Yet it is not a blessing to be poor. Jesus came to earth and lived among people as a poor man. He was born in a stable and had no home to stay in that he could call his. Even his tomb was a borrowed tomb. But through his poverty, those who believe on him are made rich spiritually.
There are many examples of rich people and poor people in the Bible with the poor appearing to be better people than the rich. Jesus praised a poor widow who cast into the Temple treasury two mites which to her was a fortune and looked down upon those that cast lots of money into the treasury because they could afford to be generous. Jesus told his followers that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. He may have been referring to a rock opening called the Needle’s Eye through which camels had to kneel and crawl to make it through. Rich people generally are not willing to be humble and admit that what they receive is because of God. They think they are self-sufficient.
In the book of Luke, Jesus told the story about a certain rich man who lived the life of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus who sat under his table and desired the scraps that fell from it. Since the rich man was a certain rich man and Lazarus was a real person, it appears the story actually took place. When Lazarus died he was taken to Paradise and into Abraham’s bosom. When the rich man died he went to Hell. He didn’t go there because he was rich. He went there because he had rejected God.
Lazarus though seems to contradict what King David wrote in Psalms about the righteous not being forsaken or God’s people begging bread. Evidently Lazarus knew that God would deliver him from poverty in eternity and that relying on him and the generosity of others would allow him to be rewarded someday. The rich man realized that his riches were meaningless after his death. He may have even been generous in giving to the Temple and to the poor like Lazarus. But as the Bible says, all our righteousness is as filthy rags. We can do nothing to merit eternal life. Only by accepting the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and accepting Christ as our Savior can we be assured of an eternal home in Heaven.
Even God isn’t impressed by wealth. The streets of Heaven are paved with gold. The twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem are made from precious stones with the gates being made from pearl. A relative handful of people who will call Heaven their home are rich. But those who admit that their wealth was a blessing from God and are born-again can call Heaven their home.
Jesus told his followers that they would always have the poor around them. The poor found a champion in Jesus who went to them to minister to them. Even today, many poor people find hope in Jesus and the promise of a mansion after they die being built for them in Heaven. The thought of luxury and comfort in Heaven after they die is appealing. But just because one is poor doesn’t mean God thinks any more highly of them. He would like to give them the desires of their heart. But since riches often turn people’s hearts away from God as they did the heart of Solomon, God knows that it is best that most people not become rich. As the Bible points out, how does a man profit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? What can he give in exchange for his soul? The soul is much more precious than riches.
Crushing poverty can be a problem though. Those who are extremely poor may feel that God doesn’t love them or else they would be delivered from their poverty. Those who had been rich but suddenly become poor may wonder if God has rejected them. He may be putting them to the test like he did Job. Job lost his wealth and health and wondered why God allowed it. His three friends accused him of committing some sin. But he knew that he was a righteous man who honored God daily. He never accused God foolishly and was eventually restored financially with more than he had lost.
If a Christian is wealthy, he should show his love toward God by giving from his wealth to help others and to spread the gospel. God expects a tenth of what he has and an offering. The wealthy who call themselves Christians should be charitable in many ways and do what is right. John D. Rockefeller Jr. built Rockefeller Center and transformed a sleazy area in Manhattan into a center for radio, TV, and entertainment for the good of New York. His father John D. Rockefeller Sr. was a Sunday school teacher as well as a billionaire. He established the Rockefeller Foundation and created the tradition of giving half of what he earned to charity. You could call the Rockefellers old-fashioned liberals who believed in giving from their wealth to help mankind. The first century church was known for its liberality. Today’s liberals have given liberalness a bad reputation. They think that others should give from their wealth to help others and often give little for charity. God would call this hypocrisy.
The only true wealth we should seek is an abundance of righteousness. Today’s prosperity gospel advocates claim that if you are faithful to God, he will give you anything you ask for. Name it and claim it is their motto. But one’s material goods are no indication that he is spiritual. God allows his people to have what they need and not always what they want for fear that it may turn their hearts from God. We should be satisfied with the condition God has allowed us to be in. I’m not saying we should not try to be rich. We should try to honor God to the best of our ability and if he feels we can handle wealth, he will give us the desires of our heart. As long as the motives are pure and the goal is to please God, a person can be a billionaire. As long as he realizes all good gifts come from above from God, becoming wealthy is not wrong. The person needs to be thankful and willing to give of his wealth and himself to help others and spread the gospel. God can just as easily use a million dollars given by a million people one dollar at a time as he can a million dollars given by one person. Just as long as God’s work is progressed, being wealthy is not wrong. It depends on if money is a tool for God to use or if it controls the lives of men.