Rich or Poor

The other day I spoke to the volunteer at the local Historical Society and the subject of wealth came up. Many of our town’s philanthropists over a century ago made lots of money through banking or through medical practices and businesses.

I could be wrong, but I got the impression that the man didn’t think highly of those who accumulated significant wealth. This is the second time in my many years here that I have run into people with good retirement incomes, enough that they can go on cruises or take other vacation trips, yet they seem to disdain the acquisition of lots of money.

I pointed out to the man that these rich folks built hospitals,  the library, homes for orphans, invited government institutions to settle here, which provided jobs for the inhabitants, supported churches, and gave land and hired landscapers to fashion parks for everyone to enjoy, etc.

As I read through the book of Luke today, I came across Jesus telling the story of the rich young ruler. It can be found in Luke 18:18-27, Matthew 19: 16-26 and again in Mark 10: 17-27.

My husband told us this past Sunday that the reason there is more than one telling of the same story is because each individual has their own perspective. They’re all seeing the same thing from different angles and all is true.

When I read in Matthew about the rich young ruler asking Jesus what good deed should he do to inherit eternal life, He told the man to keep the commandments. The young man said he’d kept them since his youth. Then Jesus said if you wish to be perfect then go and sell your possessions, give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.

The young man went away sorrowing because he owned many things. I’ve heard it preached that if he had given all his money to the poor, the Lord would have blessed him with even more earthly possessions, but I don’t see that here. What I see here is a young man being allowed to follow God the Son, to learn from Him and to experience first-hand the love of God. What a privilege he walked away from. Jesus didn’t say he wouldn’t go to heaven, He tells the disciples that it’s difficult for a rich man to get to heaven, but nothing is impossible with God.

In Matthew 6:24 of the Word of God Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters. Either we will hate one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. Man cannot serve God and mammon (money).

If a believer becomes rich, it would behoove that person to hold on to the money very loosely and to be willing to let God direct the wealth. Even King Solomon with all his wisdom used riches for selfish reasons and to placate his wives. He built their gods buildings to be worshiped in and began to follow those gods and incurred the wrath of God.

I think God wants us to be good stewards of whatever He gives us to use. If we consider money as a tool, then we’re not in danger of letting material goods become an idol. Money is not to be greedily sought after or abhorred. It’s necessary at times in life to have resources. God is our provider, that’s the thing to remember. Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto us.

May God bless you and watch over you.

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