The bible is filled with verses that speak of the wealthy and the poor. For the Christian scripture makes it plain as to how we are to care for the poor and it also gives us insight as to how God views the poor. The same thing can easily be said for the wealthy. However there is a problem in our current day society as it pertains to God’s perception of the two. Society has a tendency to favor the poor as being better individuals from a moral perspective than the wealthy. In reality this could not be further from the truth. In fact, God sees the two as exactly the same, people who are lost without His gracious gift of salvation.
God is impartial
Scripture shows us that regardless of a person’s wealth, position or popularity God does not show partiality towards the individual.
“For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11)
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” (Acts 10:34)
“But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” (Colossians 3:25)
God sets the record straight
The bible is replete with verses that bring encouragement to the poor when speaking about the kingdom of Heaven. It drives home the message that the financially poor are not overlooked or considered less than the wealthy in God’s eyes. It makes it clear that the wealthy do not have an advantage to entering God’s kingdom.
“But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:” (Luke 14:13)
“And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:42-44)
“Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.” (Ecclesiastes 4:13)
The bible reveals that God, in His sovereignty, is the controlling factor in a person becoming rich or poor.
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich:he bringeth low, and lifteth up.” (1 Samuel 2:7)
God adds value to the word “poor”, revealing that everyone of us are spiritually poor if we do not have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Remember, God does not show partiality. This means that simply because one is poor does not mean by default they are favored to enter the God’s kingdom.
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Luke 4:18)
“Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God.” (Jeremiah 5:1)
It is important to note that in biblical times it was believed that the more money one had the easier it was for them to enter into Heaven. This was because the rich had the ability to pay more in alms as a way for penance of their sins. So it was assumed if one could give more in alms it was easier for them to become forgiven of their trespasses. The bible makes it clear that being wealthy carries no advantage in terms of salvation or how God views us whether we are rich or poor. It also makes it clear that we are not saved by our works (good deeds or giving) but instead by God’s grace.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)
The eye of the needle
Mark 10:25 is commonly cited whenever we hear of a wealthy person committing an ill or grievous act.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)
Especially if the act is towards those who are not wealthy. There is a misconception that it is somehow harder for a rich person to make it into heaven verses the poor. In order to right this misconception we must look at this verse in context. The verse was centered around the story of a rich man who claimed to have kept the commandments. He wanted to know from Jesus, what else he had to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to give all he owns to the poor and follow Him. The rich man refused because He was clinging to his possessions.
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22)
Then Jesus asks His disciples: “how hard is it for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?”
“And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24)
When they did not answer Jesus asks again and states “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Remember that in biblical times it was thought that the wealthier a person was, the easier it was for them to enter the kingdom. This is evident by the disciples reaction.
“And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26)
Jesus then sets the record straight that it is only by God can anyone enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)
The moral of this story is that regardless of a person’s wealth, entering Heaven is still impossible. Also, contrary to popular belief the story of the rich man does not imply that it is easier for the poor to enter into Heaven or that the poor are somehow less morally corrupt than the rich. Entering into the kingdom of Heaven is impossible for all of us apart from God because none of us are good.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:10-11)
God does not give preference to anyone. Regardless of our financial status we are all morally corrupt and in the same dilemma. Being rich does not make it anymore difficult to enter into Heaven than being poor and vice versa. Apart from God’s saving grace we are all worthy of His eternal punishment and eternal separation from Him. The good news is Jesus Christ took the punishment we deserved so by faith and repentance we can become saved.
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)