What does it mean within the Bible, where it is asserted woe to the rich, for they have received the
“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:22–26
How does one’s financial status affect one’s spiritual status? Or is there any effect at all? Which is better, to be poor or rich? Israel was promised freedom from poverty if the people followed God’s laws (Deuteronomy 15:4). Yet Jesus taught that the poor are blessed (Luke 6:20).
The apostle Paul addressed the issue of wealth: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:8–10
Having money is not wrong, but loving money is. God is not against us having money, the wealth of the earth belongs to the Lord.
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.The abundance of money or the lack of money is less important than our spiritual condition.” Psalm 50:7-11
Consider the New Jerusalem and what it is made of, precious stones that are 1500 miles square and 1500 miles tall, uncut. The gold is so pure it is translucent, which is Gods creation: Revelation 21. God is NOT against us having money, He is against money having us!!
In Jewish culture, poverty and even disability were often seen as the result of someone’s personal sin.
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” John 9:1–3
While human nature often attributes poverty or other weaknesses to something wrong a person has done, God can and does use such circumstances to work His will.
The account of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17–22 shows how riches can be a spiritual stumbling block. Jesus told the young man to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and then follow Him. The man walked away sad because he was a man of much wealth. In this case, the man’s wealth was a negative since it kept him from following Christ. He loved his money more than he loved Jesus.
While many of the psalms and proverbs speak matter-of-factly regarding the benefits of wealth and struggles of poverty, the Bible is clear that both poverty and wealth can be the will of God and a blessing from God depending on your heart towards Gods service. Jesus lived in relative poverty; even Solomon was blessed with significant wealth. King David had a humble beginning and a wealthy ending. The apostles followed Christ to persecution and martyrdom; they were not regarded as wealthy, but they used all they had to share Christ with others (Luke 18:28). “The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.” Proverbs 22:2
The human perspective sees wealth as a blessing and poverty as a curse. God’s plan is much greater and uses both wealth and poverty to accomplish His will. We are to avoid the temptation to see wealth as God’s only blessing and instead be content in any and every circumstance, knowing that God’s blessings are not defined by our possessions in this world but are found in their fullness both in the world and in a kingdom not of this world.