Is Jesus Opposed to Wealth?
“... How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.”
– Mark 10:23b (ESV)
In Judaism, wealth was viewed as a mark of God’s favor.
People readily saw wealth as an advantage, not a barrier to God. So, when Jesus asks the wealthy young man to sell and give what he has to the poor, his request leaves the young man disheartened and sorrowful (See Mark 10:17-22).
Not much has changed.
Some today emphasize that prosperity is a sign of God’s favor. Some go as far as stressing that if you don’t have wealth, you must not have God’s blessing. Just as Jesus’s teaching was astonishing to his disciples – his words are staggering for many today.
Is Jesus against wealth? The answer is NO. Jesus recognizes the temptation of wealth. He understands how pursuing riches can easily distort our attention from God, his kingdom, and his purpose. Jesus reminds us:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:19-21).
The pursuit of wealth had blinded the Pharisees’ eyes. As a result, they were enslaved to the master of greed.
Jesus’ invitation to the wealthy young man is not to encourage misguided asceticism (self-denial) or false spiritualism. He’s addressing an issue where the burden and pursuit of wealth crushes a wealthy person’s spiritual aspirations.
God is not opposed to wealth but to the one who pursues anything (wealth, fame, notoriety, success, etc.) above God.
When I remember that all I have and am belongs to God, I’m more apt to view my blessings as an investment entrusted to me by God to use for His glory.
Are you looking for a place to receive spiritual direction and encouragement in these challenging times? Please consider joining my mailing list. Each Wednesday you’ll receive my latest blog posts with practical content designed to support you in your life and faith.