The Rich

It is easy to want to be rich.  You could buy whatever you wanted whenever you wanted it.  You could purchase many of the pleasures in life.  As a rich person you wouldn’t have to worry about paying bills or buying food or where you are going to live.  Some of the important people of the Bible were rich.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were rich.  Kings David and Solomon were rich.  I suspect that Mary, Martha and Lazarus were rich.  It is not wrong to be rich. 

But Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 19:23-26 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say to 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.’  When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’  But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”  It is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom because entering the kingdom requires faith and trust in God.  A typical rich man trusts in his riches.  Whenever a problem comes in life, the rich man uses his riches to solve the problem.  He doesn’t see a need to trust in God.  The poor man must trust in the Lord.  James 2:5 “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”  God wants you to trust in Him rather than to trust in yourself or your riches.  The poor man must trust in the Lord because he doesn’t have any riches to depend upon.

There is no strict definition of who is rich.  I have found that people often don’t consider themselves rich because they can look at someone else who has more.  The one who has more is rich.  The person without a house considers the person with a house to be rich.  The person without a car considers the person with a car as rich.  The person without a savings account in the bank considers the person with a savings account as rich.  And so it goes.  We compare ourselves to others.  They are rich and I am not.  But perhaps you should turn that around and realize that compared to someone else, you are rich.  If you have any possessions at all, you are rich compared to one who has nothing.  And if you are rich, there are things you must be careful to avoid.  The apostle Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”  If you are richer than someone else, it is easy to be proud.  Somehow you might consider yourself better than those who have less than you do.  Do not be haughty because you have more.  You are not better in God’s eyes because you have more.  He is the one who has given you what you have.  1 Corinthians 4:6b-7 “That none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.  For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 

It is somewhat natural to trust that your possessions will shield you from the problems in life.  Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  You can lose your possessions due to moth or rust or thieves or any of a number of other reasons.  Trust in God rather than in your possessions.  Don’t make the possessions of this life your treasure; lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.

“Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”  Seek to be rich in good works.  Use your riches to help with the needs of those who have less.  Be ready to give and to share.  Have compassion on those who have needs that you can supply.  If you do, you will be laying up for yourself treasures in heaven.

Compared to someone who has less, you are rich.  Do not be proud or trust in your riches.  Instead, be rich in good works.