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.