Jesus warns us against the danger of prosperity by saying, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Does this refer to the Fortune 500 or was Jesus essentially talking to the average middle-class American lifestyle? The average American makes more money in a week than much of the world makes in a year. We have homes, and cars, and the latest gadgets of our modem technological age.The Bible has much to say about money matters because in God’s eyes money matters.
God answers a Christian’s prayer (1 Pet 3:12). The question is: What should we pray for? Scripture teaches us that we should pray for our spiritual needs, our health (2 Jn. 2), our safety (Rom. 1:9-10), the necessities of life, (Matt. 6:11) and our national leaders, (1 Tim. 2:2) just to name a few. But should I pray for God’s blessings in the area of financial prosperity? The true answer is, we should never pray or labor to be rich, but rather we should be content with what God gives us each day. We should be seeking first the kingdom of heaven and our necessities will be added to us (Mt 5:28-34).
What about the wealthy wicked? That was the question that Asaph asked in Psalm 73. He said, “My feet came close to stumbling when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (v. 2-3). Asaph’s faith was on thin ice. He said, “Hey, God, whose side are you on?” “Why are you blessing all these rich sinners?” God never answered his question. What He did do was to show the psalmist that while the wicked may seem to have an easier time on the road of life, the fact remains that they are going in the wrong direction. They may have health, wealth, and worldly success, but they don’t have God or his eternal promise of eternal life. Israel realized a staggering fact long ago in the days of Jeremiah the prophet. When they worshiped idols they had food, were healthy, and saw no evil (Jer 44:15,17). Therefore, unlike Moses, who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, they desired the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb 11:25).
David said, “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end” (Ps 73:16-17). It isn’t easy for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom (Mt 19:24). God’s people maybe poor, but they are rich in faith (Jam 2:5).
Could God make one rich? Certainly! God made Abraham rich and Job rich, but each of these were also rich in faith and obedience to God. They put God first throughout their entire life. Yet, riches are a great danger, insomuch that Jesus commanded the rich ruler to give his money to the poor, and to take up his cross and follow him. This man went away very sorrowful for he was very rich (Lk 18:18-25). Riches can be used for the good. If given to God’s ministry, it can teach millions. If given to the poor, it can feed millions. If kept for our own greed, it can send our soul to hell (Jam 5:1-5). Such was the case in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. He wore expensive clothing and lived luxuriously every day, but without warning he woke up in hell. He desired mercy but received none (Lk 16:19-31).
Brethren, don’t get caught up with how the wicked live. Their consolation are the riches of this world (Lk 6:24). They live in good health and live long lives, but suddenly go down to the grave (Job 21). The righteous have their cross to bear here on earth, but in the life to come they have a crown of life. Will you sell your eternal life for the riches of this earth? Choose you this day whom you will serve, God or money (Mt 6:24 cf; 16:26 f; Josh 24:15).