We often fall into the trap of considering those who are well-off automatically excluded from the kingdom of heaven. We do this because we take a few Biblical texts out of context and turn what Jesus said to ONE MAN in the Gospel of Matthew into some universal statue for the entire body of Christ. I’m speaking of his command to the “Rich Young Ruler” in Matthew 19:
Matthew 19:21 (ESV) 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.”
Jesus was not providing a global principle for how to get to heaven in this passage. He was challenging this particular man’s self-righteousness that falsely believed his riches were a sign of his moral accomplishments making him “good enough” for heaven. Remember his first question to Jesus was “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He thought Jesus was going to say, “You’re fine, keep it up.”
Back to my point. Many people believe to be really Christian means becoming really poor. What an absurd notion. It makes wealth the greatest enemy of the faith when it is not (unbelief is), it creates an unnecessary roadblock to the Gospel for many people and most of all – it in eliminates almost EVERY American because simply living in this country puts us in the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people.
No, the Gospel is not, “Live Poor so You Get to Heaven”. If that was the case, the Cross was unnecessary and many of God’s greatest heroes will not make it. I’m talking about Abraham (very rich), David (super rich), Solomon (ultra-rich), Zacchaeus, Matthew, Lydia, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Please also remember that it was several wealthy WOMEN who bankrolled Jesus’ own ministry (Luke 8:3).
Now there are things we rich people must do. Those commands are found throughout the Gospels and particularly in 1 Timothy 6:
1 Timothy 6:17–19 (ESV) As for the rich in this present age (Americans), charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
That’s a mouthful of instruction for us. But look at the last line again carefully: “storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future.” He doesn’t say “heaven” here, he says, “the future.” Guess what that means! You live generously now, you will be empowered for more generosity later (in this life!). Sound unbiblical? Then explain to me Jesus’ own words in response to Peter in Luke 18:
Luke 18:28–30 (NLT) Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” 29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”
Sadly, there are many Christians (and far too many Pastors) who guilt God’s people into thinking real spirituality is absolute poverty. Nothing could be further from the truth. A well-resourced Christian is a rich blessing to the work of the Gospel. And scripture is clear again and again, no investment in the mission of Jesus is a net loss for the Christian. God blesses us to bless the world and the greatest blessing we can give them is the message of reconciliation with the Father (2 Cor. 5:19).
Waters Church is entering a financial stewardship campaign for important projects to spread the Gospel called “Above and Beyond”. Start asking God what He would have you do to share in the blessing of spreading the message of Jesus to an area that seriously needs it.
Did you know we have a class to help you manage finances? It’s called “Financial Peace”. Call the office today to find out more! (508) 695-1300