The following question came from a reader:
“Can a Christian be wealthy? What about it being easier for the camel going through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God? That scares me a lot!”
This concern is one that many church-goers share.
Interestingly, I’ve found that it’s not a concern for Bible-readers – those who study out the Bible for themselves seeking to personally know God as He describes Himself in His Word.
As an aside, one of the most succinct settings of scriptures I’ve found that describes the overall nature of God can be found in Job 22:21-30. Go read it for yourself and let God talk to your heart.
Now, let me address this “eye of a needle” question…
If you study this out historically, you’ll find that a “needle” was a small opening in the sides of a walled or fenced city. It was designed to give people a convenient way in and out of the city without having to go all the way around to a main gate.
However, because this represented a “security breach” these openings were made smaller so that they could be easily defended in the event an enemy attacked. Because these openings were smaller, a camel had to get down on its knees in order to get through the opening.
So in fact, Christ gave a great analogy for how most people deal with and react to money. Let me restate what Christ was saying like this:
“It’s easier for a camel to get down on its knees and crawl through a small hole than it is for most people to overcome the temptation and desire to lift themselves up rather than God and money is the best way they know to lift themselves up – because to them, money is power, recognition, and attention.”
This reveals the real question…
“Where do you want the power to go?”
If you are the kind of person who wants to bring power to yourself, then for you, money IS bad.
Or, more accurately, you’ve not yet really sold out to Christ because Galatians 5:24-26 says:
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Think about those scriptures. Can you see a person who is living their life according to these scriptures having a problem with money?
I don’t think so!
In Psalms 62:11, we read that “power belongeth unto God“. The person who is sold out to Christ WANTS to give power, glory, honor, praise, thanksgiving, and increase to God.
But a funny thing happens when you really sell out and give all to God…
If you’ll consider the rest of the scriptures about the “camel” and the “eye of the needle” (Matthew 19 and Mark 10), you’ll see that Jesus goes on to tell the audience that those who do “forsake riches” will be given 100 times more riches in this world and life everlasting.
What does that mean?
It means that it takes Faith in God to become a Millionaire for Jesus – someone who has the financial ability and time freedom to be a servant in God’s Kingdom – and God always rewards faith both financially and spiritually. (Go read through the the Bible if you don’t believe me.)
On the other hand, it takes no faith to be poor – just go with the flow and you’ll be poor.
Hebrews 11 lets us know that “without faith it is impossible to please him [God]“. Jesus asked this question in Luke 18:8:
“when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
The other thing that’s interesting about this camel story is that Christ was talking to wealthy people – and you can tell that from the response they give him and the follow-up conversation that ensues. If they had been poor people, their response would have been quite different.
You see, contrary to popular opinion, most of the disciples were wealthy men. If you look at Peter and his brothers, you’ll find that they were business owners. They were ship owners. They didn’t own log rafts or little row boats. They owned ships. Ships have always been something that only extremely wealthy people have the means to own.
As a different example, consider at Christ’s crucifixion he had on a set of clothes that were so nice the soldiers drew lots for it. Now, if he had been wearing a “poor” persons clothes, do you think these soldiers would have wanted them? Of course not! In today’s terms, Christ had on the equivalent of an Armani suit and the soldiers recognized its value and wanted to keep it.
Now, consider this… In Luke 16:13, we read, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” It is my observation that many people think they are serving God when in fact, they are serving “mammon” (money).
Why do I say this?
I say this because I continue to see people who are financially BOUND to their job. They don’t make decisions based on what God’s will is or what God’s purpose is for their life. They make their decisions based on money – usually their lack thereof.
So I ask you, if you are making virtually all of your decisions based on money, who are you serving?
The fact is, if God were to speak to most people and ask them to go do such and such, they couldn’t do it because they are financially obligated and bound.
Let me wrap this up…
According to the Bible, money IS a good thing and God wants to give it to us if we’ll use it as a tool to love people and to build up and expand His Kingdom. And, while we are doing these “good works”, God in turn gives us the goodness and fullness of life to enjoy.
There are many, many different scriptures I could use to back up what I just said but for the sake of space, I’ll only use one – 1 Timothy 6:17-19 which says:
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
One last question for you…
Based on these scriptures here in 1 Timothy, how are you going to lay up store for yourself a good foundation so that you can lay hold on eternal life if you don’t have money?
I’m not at all saying you have to have money to be saved. But, I am saying that being involved in good works does require money – and the more money you have, the more good works you can be involved in.
For more discussion on poor versus rich, take a look at this:
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