If you had the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world for free – would you do it? For many of us, such a trip isn’t often taken because of the reality of jobs or other responsibilities. There may even be health restrictions. But most likely, the main reason we are not avid globetrotters is due to financial reasons. Simply put, trips cost money. Does this mean then that money is freedom? In one sense, yes. With a boundless bank account, you are free to buy tickets anywhere you please, to buy frivolous things, and even to donate to whomever you wish. For many in our world, money is thought to be the ultimate freedom but there are still things that money cannot buy.
Money cannot buy away an incurable disease. Money cannot buy you more time with others who have passed away. Money cannot buy you true love. But most of all, money cannot buy your way into heaven. Unlike every other place on Earth, the Kingdom of God is not made more accessible by money. In fact, if we consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:23-26 at face value, what we find is that money will make it more difficult for some to enter into God’s Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:23 ESV) Jesus frames His words with his typical formula, “Truly I say to you…” This was His hallmark phrase in letting the listener know that something of tremendous value was about to be uttered (cf. Matt. 26:21; Mark 9:41). But we need to careful in our consideration of Christ’s words, so that we do not misunderstand our Lord.
Jesus did not say that all wealthy people go to hell. Nor does He say, money is sinful and a sign of a crooked life. When we consider the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, these men had tremendous faith and wealth also. We can think of other examples such as Job and David, and even Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy disciple of Jesus. We have too often been exposed to the one extreme that poverty is akin to holiness or the monstrosity found in much of American Evangelicalism known as the Prosperity Gospel that if God loves you He will bless you with health, wealth, and happiness. We find grounds for neither in the Scriptures. Rather what we find is that one’s wealth or lack thereof is no barometer for God’s favor upon you. Poverty cannot be misunderstood as piety or vice versa. Even the rich young ruler in the immediately preceding section was not told simply to sell his things (as if that would garner his entrance into heaven) but he was also commanded to follow Christ as His disciple. What does this teach us?
Our wealth is merely a tool, and one in which we will be held accountable for. The reason that the wealthy have a difficulty in entering into heaven is that wealth so often leaves little room for dependence. Entering into God’s kingdom is different than entering every other kingdom because you enter by dying to yourself. You must be born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3), you must humble yourself as a child (Matt. 18:3-4), and you must be righteous (Matt. 5:20). Indeed, entrance to such a kingdom as God’s will guarantee suffering (Acts 14:22). We no longer are allowed to be the center of our universe, instead we joyfully surrender that rightful place to Christ.
Have you humbled yourself before the rightful King or are you trying to earn your way into heaven? Do you seek His supernatural strength in prayer for the most impossible of situations? My friends, a Christian is not powerful because of their wealth or power. A Christian is never more powerful than when they take to heart the words of God in the secret place of prayer. Your riches won’t save you from the coming wrath of God. Nor shall your poverty aid you in God’s sight. Come to Christ, and find your greatest treasure in Him alone. Believe that what is impossible with man is possible in the triune God.
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