Hard for a Rich Man to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven

(Matthew 19:23-26)

The Lord says that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact he says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Why is that so? What is it about being rich that is such a great stumbling block?

We see in some churches there is a prosperity ministry. This ministry teaches in principle that God blesses his people so that they will prosper and that this will be seen in material gain. There is no question that God blesses his people, but wealth may or may not be part of that blessing. A greater blessing than any financial gain is for the Lord to say to us, “Well done good and faithful servant.” This is greater than all of the riches of this world.

Money is a trap. Wealth can lead a person to stray from the truth. Money can cause a person’s interests and attention to be divided. As Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon,” Mammon being a Semitic word for money. (Matthew 6:24) No person can be devoted to money and devoted to the Lord. Money is of this world it is not of God. Jesus showed this when the Pharisees questioned him as to whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. He said, “Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:19-21)

In this statement he shows that money is the invention of the government, it is not of God. You cannot worship God with the things of man. If we are to worship God we must come to him on his terms and the way that he wants us to worship him. Jesus said in John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” We do not worship the Father through money or wealth. We do not worship the Father by expanding our financial or material possessions. We worship him by following Jesus Christ and being transformed into his likeness.

Think about it for a moment. If we were called to worship with money, only the rich would go to heaven. Where would the poor sit in the total scheme of things? It’s the same if any other aspect of life in this world were the mechanism of worship. Only those who could do or achieve those things of the world could worship God. But as it is God has said we must worship him in spirit and truth. Every person is capable of learning the truth and worshipping in spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus the word and worship is open to all of mankind in Christ Jesus and not just a fortunate few.

Money will not commend us to God. Nor will works of law, nor acts of denial, nor the taking or abstinence of food or physical acts or anything else of mans making. Only seeking the truth through faith in Jesus Christ and worshipping the Father in spirit and truth will commend us to him.

This is why prosperity ministry is so far off the mark. It teaches that if you have money you can do more for the Lord. While a rich person may be able to help others more, it will not commend them to God any more than a poor person. Look at Jesus comments while watching the people put gifts into the treasury. The rich put many great and extravagant amounts of money in, but it was a poor widow who contributed just a few copper pennies who won Jesus’ approval. The rich contributed from their abundance, but the poor widow in her poverty gave all of her living. This was a far greater sacrifice and she was blessed in her giving.

So it is not in the abundance of money that a person is blessed but in their attitude and faith. Without the right heart towards God, no amount of money will help. And having great wealth means that you will spend time looking after that wealth. A rich man’s attention is divided and his thoughts diverted from Christ. That is why it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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3 Replies to “Hard for a Rich Man to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven”

  1. I believe that giving is requested by God. And when we give we are following and worshiping God.  “If we were called to worship with money, only the rich would go to heaven.” I disagree with this statement, however, it is not to be fully discarded. I understand the bible in several places teaches to sell everything and give to the poor. But if we follow God that is surely worship. So if we give to the needy as God commands, would that be meaningless or in worship? If we could build an imaginary scale with 1 being unpleasing to God, 5 being meaningless and 10 being worship. I think Following Gods commandments is close to the ten. 

    “…only the rich would go to heaven.” I disagree here for seveal reasons. First of all, it is God’s will that all will enter heaven. God did not create people he does not love. He has a plan for their life and desires to have a relationship with everyone. So it is us that forfeits our salvation and not God who is not strong enough to save. Malachi writes “…Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10. That sounds like wealth that Malachi is talking about and it is wealth from God. So if God gives us wealth but then says that rich cannot enter heaven, there must be something we are missing.

    1. Hi Myke,
      Thanks for your comments. I see where you are coming from and I welcome your perspective.
      My concern with wealth is not about having it but focussing on it. Jesus told the rich young man, “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.” (Matthew 19:21) The man went away sorrowful because he could not walk away from his wealth. The wealth was his focus but Jesus was telling him to change his focus to “follow him” rather than to follow his wealth. It was a problem for this man, as it is for many others today as the focus is on money and wealth rather than on the Lord. Instead when we focus on the Lord he blesses us with all that we need and more so that we can provide for and support those who have less.

      My point in the article is that neither money, wealth or anything else will commend us to God and if we let anything else stand in the way between us and God we have a problem. When people and churches focus on getting wealth and gaining money, they are looking at the wrong things. Jesus did not say we would not have these things and there were plenty of rich people in the Bible who were great in the faith. But Jesus position was to “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33) The key is getting the priority right. Seek God first and he will provide the blessings.

      The Lord in the scripture you quote in Malachi was saying the same thing. The Israelites were doing the wrong thing and so the Lord instructed them to change their ways and their focus to do what is right and then the blessings would follow. The rich who focus on their riches will fail when it comes to God’s kingdom. But those who focus on the Lord have the true wealth in the knowledge of the ways of God and the promise of eternity which is much better than the wealth of this world. Yes it is true that God’s will is for all mankind to be saved, but he has put that choice into man’s hands. He wants a people who want to be with him and who will obey his word. If someone chooses to do otherwise then it is they who reject God not the other way around and it is their decision to pass up on the blessings from the Lord.

      A good thought provoking comment and thanks for your input. I hope my explanation helps.

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