Hell #6: Wealth, Poverty, Heaven or Hell
In the story found in Luke 16:19-31 why does Jesus make a point telling us that the poor beggar went to Heaven and the rich man went to Hell? Is this a law or principle of God that all rich people go to Hell and poor people go to Heaven? Of course not. But the fact is that there will be more poor people than rich people in Heaven. That is what Jesus declared in Matthew 19:16-24.
But don’t draw any false inferences or conclusions from this. Wealth won’t send you to Hell. Poverty won’t get you into Heaven. Wealth and poverty are neither good nor bad. Wealth and poverty are neither moral or immoral. It is how we become wealthy or use or misuse our wealth that evidences the condition of our heart. Our morality will not make us fit for Heaven, for Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all fallen short of God’s perfect standard. Only Christ’s righteousness can make us fit for Heaven. Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace. It costs us nothing. It cost Jesus everything. That’s the message of Isaiah 55:1-3, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5-6. Having settled that salvation is determined by our response to God’s Gift of His grace, there are several obvious Biblical truths concerning poverty, wealth and morality. Let’s look at them.
FACT # 1 Although there are some marvelous exceptions, generally speaking, the evil and oppressive of the world are wealthy and the righteous are generally found among the poor of this world. James 2:5-7, 5:1-6
Whereas the wealthy are motivated and they devote their lives to becoming wealthy often at the expense of the poor; the righteous are usually found among the poor and they devote their lives to bringing glory to God.
I think of two outstanding examples in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the widow of Zarephath, starving and ready to die, gave her all to God’s prophet, Elijah, as recorded in I Kings 17:8-24 Read this wonderful story with a happy ending. In the New Testament, Jesus calls attention to a widow who gave two mites, all she had, to God’s temple. Read that story in Mark 12:41-44.
Though these two examples illustrate a general truth about the poor and wealthy, there are some exceptions. Some of the most wicked people are poor and some of the richest people are godly and sacrificial and use their wealth to honor God and bless others. Two examples of wealthy, God fearing people are Job and King Solomon. Job experienced both extreme wealth and poverty as God tested him. Read his story. It’s a wonderful encouragement for those going through severe testings. King Solomon started out well as he asked God for wisdom. God gave him both wisdom and wealth. The sad thing is that Solomon forgot God, turned to a life of sin and ended up making a fool of himself. In Ecclesiastes, he reflects on his wasted life.
FACT #2 God blesses those who seek Him.
God blesses those who seek Him and trust Him and do not forget Him when He blesses them. That’s the messages of Deuteronomy 8:10-20 God blesses the righteous with all spiritual blessings and He blesses them materially with all that they need and often with more than they need. Psalm 112:1-3 Philippians 4:19 Psalm 112:9 and Proverbs 13:7 teach that such blessed men or women use their wealth to help the poor, often to the point of making themselves poor, that is, depriving themselves of luxuries they don’t really need. A godly man blesses his family both spiritually and materially according to Proverbs 13:22. In fact, often God transfers the wealth of the ungodly into the hands of trustworthy, faithful Christians who use it for His glory. That also is the teaching of Proverbs 13:22. But because God blesses, don’t get the idea that Christians get a free ride through life.
FACT # 3 We each have the responsibility of bearing our own financial burdens.
Every young person needs to seek God’s will as to how he or she is going to provide for his or her own needs. Young men who are thinking about marriage, need to consider how they are going to provide for their families. We can’t just float through life, work free, expecting God to supply our needs.
I once met a pastor with a large family who had no church and no job and very little food in his rented house, who could not even afford furniture. When I visited him he was sitting dreamily on a wooden bench in his kitchen, smiling as he strummed his guitar, assuring me that God would provide for all his needs. Last I heard of that man, his family had been scattered and he had nothing.
The Bible teaches in II Thessalonians 3:7-12 that every able-bodied man is to work to supply his own needs. If he is not willing to work, God says he should not eat. So we are not to support lazy bums who have no desire to work.
As a pastor over the past fifty plus years of ministry in churches, I have had some financial dry times when I had to find a job for a few months to meet my needs. I’ve worked nights as a janitor in a department store, I’ve sold cars, sold insurances, done substitute teaching in public schools, and driven school buses; whatever I had to do to meet my needs. Don’t expect God to meet your needs if you are not willing to work. If you are a preacher needing money, don’t think it beneath your dignity to take a minimum wage job if necessary to meet your needs.
One warning from Proverbs 13:11, beware of so called easy money schemes that require no work and beware of gambling. They lead to poverty.
Fact # 4 We have a responsibility as stewards of all God has given us, to be faithful in the handling of our time, energy, money and resources.
Luke 12:48 reminds us that to whom much is given, much is required. I Corinthians 4:2 teaches us that the most important quality of a steward is faithfulness. I Corinthians 10:24 teaches us the responsibility of seeking the good of others. You can get more information on stewardship by going to my link STEWARDSHIP.
Facts # 5 We are warned of the ever present danger of riches.
Think about this, when you are handling riches, you are handling a powerful tool or weapon that can bless or destroy you and others. Read Paul’s warning to Timothy, his son in the Faith. I Timothy 6:8-19. The condition of your heart will determine how you view your possessions and how you spend and invest your money. But your relationship with Jesus will influence the condition of your heart which will determine whether you spend eternity in Heaven or Hell.
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