Those Poor Little Rich People…

Is having wealth a sin?

(Glad you asked.)

No.  In and of itself, wealth is not a sin.  But serving it is.

Yeah, devoting your life and sacrifices to Mammon is a sin.  And by far the way to obtain wealth most often traveled is by way of devotion, sacrifice, even worship of Mammon.

The Bible never judges wealth itself as sinful.  Yet the Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10).  The Bible is hard on the rich frequently.  The prophet Amos spends most of his prophecy preaching against the rich in favor of the poor – even calling some of them “Cows of Bashan” (4:1).  All through Luke’s Gospel, the rich are marginalized and the poor elevated (see Luke 1:53, a line from Mary’s Magnificat for a particularly spicy example).

Does this mean Jesus hates the rich?  Or is indifferent to them in any way?

No.

In fact, Jesus loves the rich and laments that they don’t often sacrifice their wealth and follow him.  Notice Mark tells us he actually loves the rich man (10:21) who turns away from him before then proclaiming that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.

And what was his Gospel message to the rich man, the part the rich man did not want to hear?

Sell it all, and give it to the poor.  Then come follow.

Sacrifice Mammon, and help your kin, then you can follow.

Ouch!

On the other hand, the poor are frequently elevated in Scripture and given every spiritual comfort.  Is this because the poor are inherently more spiritual?  Do the poor, by virtue of their poverty, find favor with God?

Look at James 2:5, and you tell me.

And Jesus goes on to identify himself (his very self!) with the poor and marginalized in his Great Judgment sermon about the sheep and goats in Matthew 25.

No.  Wealth in and of itself is no sin.  And in fact we have biblical examples of wealthy believers finding favor with God.  Abraham, David/Solomon, and Lydia to name a few.  Yet it appears they are anomalies proving that anything is possible with God.  But their wealth in no way makes them special otherwise.

If a rich person can humble herself in the presence of God and love his poor ones, that will be adequate to please God.  But very, precious few rich people get that wealth without loving and sacrificing to Mammon.  Precious few.  And the Bible never goes to great lengths to comfort them.  On the contrary, the Bible time and again disturbs the wealthy – and if there is to be comfort for them, it comes after they sacrifice Mammon in favor of God.

(Stick closer to your Bible than Dave Ramsey, and where they differ, go with Scripture.)

But if you want to take pity on those poor, little, rich people, then tell them you pity them.  They have a harder time getting into the Kingdom of God than a camel does passing through the eye of a needle!

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One comment

  1. Michael Wilson · February 28

    Well said. Thanks for speaking the truth.

    “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” ~Jesus

    Like

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