If You Obey God, You Will Prosper
First of all, it is important to note that many of God’s people in the Old and New Testament were wealthy, including, Solomon, Abraham, Jacob, Essau, Job, King David, Dorcas, the centurion in the New Testament, Zaccheus, etc. It says in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy (5:33 NIV), "Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess." Prosper means to be rich in a number of different ways. Basically God is saying that if people obey Him they will be sure to prosper.
The Bible Condemns Greedy Selfishness
The Bible never condemns people with money because they have money. It only condemns those who are greedy, selfish and dishonest with their money. Let’s look at some Bible verses that prove this.
Here is the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-26 NIV):
19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[c] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ’Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25"But Abraham replied, ’Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
Here we see that rich men do go to heaven because Abraham was rich.
The Rich Man Was Disobedient
This story illustrates that the rich man was selfish and disobedient with his money. He lived in luxury while blatantly disregarding the poor man, Lazarus’, condition of leprosy and poverty. The rich man fed himself but neglected to do any good for his neighbor, thereby disregarding one of the greatest commandments — to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:28-34). This is why the rich man was condemned.
Storing Up Treasure for Oneself On Earth
In another story, Jesus illustrates a man who stored up treasure for himself and like the rich man of the earlier story, instead of sharing his wealth, he built bigger barns to store it in. God told him that since he was not rich toward God and neighbor, he would be poor in the afterlife — and that that very day his life would be demanded of him. Here is the story for a closer look (Luke 12:13-21 NIV):
13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ’What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18"Then he said, ’This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ’
20"But God said to him, ’You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Here Jesus warns against greed. A person that plots and thinks about ways to get money, to exploit people and institutions, and who does not share his or her wealth is greedy and consumed with the things of this world. They desire money more than God. Therefore, it is hard for them to get into heaven because their treasure is on earth. They are consumed with money and greed.
The Rich Who Are Blessed
However, there is such a thing as a rich person who is blessed because he or she is a blessing to other people. I like to think of a person like Joyce Meyer, for instance. She is blessed with much wealth but her ministry is very generous and her hard work and right attitude has allowed her to become wealthy and to share her riches with others. Her god is God — the Almighty, not her money. When your heart is consumed with pleasing God, there is no room for greed. You will desire to do God’s will which is to bless others and to help the poor, orphaned, widowed and down-and-out in-general. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Where Is Your Treasure?
Being wealthy is not a sin. What you do with your money, riches and time tells where your heart lies. If your heart lies on earth with your monetary treasure, your home will never be in the kingdom of heaven because you won’t be able to part with your riches in your heart. Our treasure should be in our heart and that is the lasting love of the Holy Spirit which gives us the drive to help others, to do what is right and to serve God. This is what Jesus meant when He said where your treasure lies your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). That is why it is so important to remain faithful to God not to money.
It Is More Blessed to Give than to Receive
People that obey God sometimes naturally are wealthy because they are wise and generous. This doesn’t mean that the poor are deserving of their poverty. It just means that God blesses His people so that they can give in abundance to the poor. Jesus says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
I hope today’s posting has given you some insight as to what Jesus meant when He said it is difficult for the rich to enter heaven. If all of God’s people were poor, we would be a burden on society. Rather, God wants us to be a blessing and to help those who are less fortunate so that they, too, will come to Christ.