A message for us rich folks

As I type these thoughts, I’m sitting in a cushioned, high-back chair and using a relatively new computer.

The temperature outside is quite mild, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a very comfortable 70 degrees where I am. If it varies a few degrees one way or the other, that’s easy enough to fix.

I’m not sure what I’ll eat for my next meal, but I’m not the slightest bit worried about whether or not I’ll have something to eat.

Can you relate?

If so, that says all we need to know about where we both stand in the world.

We’re wealthy.

Over three billion people right now are somehow scraping by on less than $2 a day.

I spent four times that this morning on a book I think I might like to read.

That’s probably why many of us stumble through passages like this one.

After a rich man walked away from Jesus, the Lord turned to the disciples and said:

“How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:23-27).

The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, probably because they thought wealth meant God was pleased with you, a common assumption in their world.

If the ones God has blessed can’t be saved, no one has a chance, they were thinking.

Jesus quickly turned that assumption on its head, as he did so many others.

Instead of suggesting God’s approval, money makes it more difficult to go to heaven. Jesus paints a funny picture of a camel trying to get through the eye of a needle, which is impossible, of course (don’t buy into any interpretation that suggests anything less than absolute impossibility).

Jesus is saying that rich people can’t go to heaven, not unless God steps in.

But why?

Because money makes us think we’re self-sufficient, that we don’t need anything.

It opens doors and buys respect.

It gets us what we want.

The thing we like about it the most, though, is that it brings independence, and we like independence.

We feel strong, powerful, in control.

Which are the very qualities that prevent true discipleship.

Entering the kingdom means submitting yourself totally to the lordship of Jesus. It means acknowledging that you depend completely on God for your future.

And we wealthy folks don’t like to do that, not at all. We take comfort in being self-sufficient.

But this passage ends on a positive note.

“All things are possible with God.”

It’s crucial to notice where Jesus points when he talks about salvation.

He’s always looking at God.

God will turn our eyes away from self and make us acknowledge our dependence on him.

We’ll see wealth as a gift from God that he’ll use to his glory, not as some sort of façade that gives us a false sense of self-sufficiency.

Through God’s power we’ll direct our trust toward Jesus alone.

Then he, and only he, will get the camel through that needle.

8 thoughts on “A message for us rich folks”

  1. Great article. The terms “Rich and poor” have no clear meaning in society and the media anymore. If someone else things you are rich, you are rich. If someone else thinks someone is poor, they are labeled poor… and sadly, they run with that label

    1. Thanks. I agree . . . we tend to compare ourselves with the people around us (which is natural), so because we live in a wealthy country, we don’t think we are rich. We can lessen that tendency by looking at the world more broadly.

  2. I get what your saying. I do. But I disagree on your idea of “wealth”.

    If you can afford the things you need and you aren’t in severe debt, then that’s not wealth. That’s just being normal. If you CAN’T afford the things you need and/or you ARE in severe debt, then you live in poverty.

    It doesn’t matter what the monetary equivalent of that is in American dollars. When living in China as an English teacher, I got payed 3,000 yuan a month. I was also given a two-bedroom, one bath apartment to live in, complete with utilities, that I didn’t have to pay for. I was making more than most high-ranking officers of the local police force. I used that money not just for groceries, but to travel all over China during holiday, buy tons of souvenirs, and STILL had plenty left over at the end of the year.

    3,000 yuan back then equated to about $300 a month.

    In China, I was wealthy. But if I was making that much in America, it would have meant I was barely scraping by.

    Anyways, I know it’s a nit-picky thing, but it still bugs me. Thanks for listening. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I recognize that it’s tricky when we start thinking about what $2 a day means around the world. A dollar may go further in some countries than it will in others, making it difficult to compare precisely using American currency.

      The point I was making is that no matter how we look at it, most of us in the West are exponentially wealthier than the majority of people in the world. If we have access to clean water and good health care, we’re in a situation that billions of people would envy. That, I think, gives us a weighty responsibility to take Jesus’ words in Mark 10 seriously.

      Thanks again.

  3. I enjoy and am encouraged by your comments. I particularly like this passage paired with the one concerning the rich, young ruler. The actual place in the middle ease the “eye of the needle” is beneficial for me to see in my mind. In order for the camel to go through it requires for the it to be completely relieved of it’s burden; like us we can not enter until we get rid of all our baggage. If you have enough you are wealthy. Think about that rich, young ruler- baggage, and lots of it. We put importance on things that don’t matter. Jesus had all He needed and He didn’t have a hole to get in like a fox or a pillow on which to lay his head, yet he was blessed physically and wealthy beyond measure, spiritually. Bottom line, it is so hard for a person with material possessions to focus on spiritual things, when he is concerned with maintaining the amount of wealth he possesses. Seems to me that we are spoiled and it is not good for us and we just don’t want to admit it. Could we sell all our possessions and save our souls? I dare say their wouldn’t be very many to volunteer and put all our trust in Jesus’ plan. Honestly, I think this hits more closely to home than any of us want to admit. What an example it would be for our children if we did have the courage to do this and follow him, truly. Do we trust in God enough to do this? Maybe if we thought about Jesus and what He is really about we would concentrate on serving rather than being served. Just because we can have it so easy doesn’t mean that is the best for us. Maybe we should choose a way in which it requires that we work hard to get the things we need to sustain ourselves, rather than the easy way. It’s kind of like giving our children something that they haven’t earned, when the lesson should be that they complete the task to receive the reward. Just some thoughts to ponder. Thanks for your article. It is genuinely making me think

  4. Just wanted to say that I have been following your blog for about a week. Its been a true blessing in my day to receive your e-mails with such convicting messages. It has been a while since I’ve seen someone write with such passion. I admire your zeal and commitment to sharing your thoughts and God’s word on a daily basis. May God continue to shine through you as you serve Him!

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