Who Are the Rich?

 

“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:17-31

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never related to the parable of the rich young ruler and therefore have always taken it as a warning, a caution to keep my priorities as they are and not fall into the trap of loving the wealth of this world.

But, many things are relative.

For example, if I compare myself to others in America, to others who are older than I am, or those who are in-arguably rich by anyone’s standards, of course I’m going to be content with our modest home and income (especially when our home used to be the three of us in a one-bedroom apartment and our income was my husband working at McDonald’s).

Yet, if I compare myself to our friends that struggle financially more than we do, or even worse: to the majority of the rest of the world, I suddenly don’t feel so comfortable with myself; I get that same feeling as when I eat at Olive Garden: bloated, fat, over-fed, ready to throw up and never eat there again.

Consider this quote:

“If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4,o00 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet?

…Which is more messed up-that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don’t think we’re rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves “broke” or “poor”? We are neither of those things. We are rich. Filthy rich.”

Ironically, I try to approach every passage with the mindset of applying it to myself and not “Oh man, so-and-so really needs to hear this”. I really need to hear it. And yet, even with that focus, messages have still been lost on me, as with the message of this parable. When there is a societal norm or when everyone around us(Christian or not) seems to be following roughly the same pattern, it is even more essential that we “test ourselves and examine whether we are in the faith.” It’s a dangerous things to rely on the comparing of ourselves to others, yet even just agreeing with that statement doesn’t ensure that we won’t fall unknowingly into that trap.

We need to be reading the Bible daily, not because we’re required to, but because we love and live for God and to do His will. Because His word sustains us. Because we want to please Him and we know that we can’t do that by our own reasoning and logic. Because it’s too easy to be swept away by worldly wisdom and advice that would seem legitimate if we didn’t know what God has said.

So, who are the rich?
We are. If you’re reading this, you are.

You may not have a lot, and just because you aren’t as destitute as families in third-world countries doesn’t mean you aren’t struggling to get by. And that’s where the test of how seriously you take the words of our Lord comes in:

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:25-33

“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

“He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” – Luke 14:12-14

“To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:29-36

There’s so much I want to write about because this topic really is deeply-rooted in faith and love and I want to challenge our perception of those two weighty matters.

Maybe I’ll make this a series, but for now, let’s just chew on what the Bible says in the passages we’ve looked at today.

I think we can all agree that heartlessly following commands in the Bible won’t get us to heaven because it is truly our hearts that our Lord wants.

Does that mean “loving” Him in our own sense of the word will get us to heaven?

No.

Why?

Because He has told us that if we truly love Him, we will keep His commands (John 14:15, 14:21, Acts 5:29, 1 John 3:23, 24, 5:2 go read these if you aren’t familiar with them)

So, look at those earlier passages from the gospels. Would it be more effective if it said “Simon says to give, especially in your poverty, because you love and serve God alone and trust that He will provide and nothing on this earth matters except to do the will of your Father and store up treasure in heaven rather than building a financial security net and providing for yourself and your family so that you can have a comfortable life and retire and never be in need or literally dependent on God?

Or is it enough for His disciples that Jesus has said it?

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21

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5 thoughts on “Who Are the Rich?

  1. “Do you realize that if you make $4,o00 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet?”

    This is just liberal Obamite communist foolishness. To me, unless you can quit your job without going broke, you are NOT rich. Rich means you can sustain yourself without working for someone else. Rich means owning property that produces money, not making a higher salary as a wage slave living from paycheck to paycheck than some lower paid wage slave who also lives paycheck to paycheck but with less expenses. If you make almost $3,000 dollars a month but are still basically in a situation where being out of work for two or three months (or less) would drain your finances, you are NOT rich — you are a slave, a wage slave. Maybe you’ve got fancier clothes than the wage slaves in Indonesia, and better food, and a car…but you’re still a wage slave. You make more money and you spend more money, but your society dictates that you MUST. If you didn’t dress as fancy as you do, you’d be fired and starve to death. If you didn’t have that car you couldn’t drive across town in that horrible morning traffic to your job, and you’d starve to death. The guy in Indonesia may have to walk to work, but undoubtedly he doesn’t work as far away from home; he may wear cheaper clothes, but undoubtedly his workplace doesn’t require anything better. We are locked in to our lifestyle by the demands of our employers and the decadence of the truly rich (the owners of the corporations) who impose these hardships of cost on us to keep us from rising above wage slave level. And when you put forth this tripe that we wage slaves are rich, you are just helping the corporation owners and greedy stockholders hold us all down in wage slavery (and thereby hold the Indonesians down in the same). Because when we feel the hurt of our wage slavery it causes us to seek out goods that have a cheaper price tag (meaning ones made by wage slaves even lower down). The problem to large extent is the Catholic church having persauded so many europeans to give their inheritance to the chruch rather than their family. And churches continuing to put down leaving an inheritance to your children and putting forth the lie that everyone needs to have kids , even the poorest of the poor. If you can’t leave a dime to your kids, don’t get married, don’t have kids. But since everyone has thought having kids is a right of ever poor man, we’ve created a world of wage slaves. If only people who owned a farm and could sustain themselves had kids, there would be no wage slaves. Every family would own their own land and be self sustaining. So, the church’s bad attitude towards inheritance and its whole “only the next world matters” nonsense is the thing at fault for wage slavery, so shut up.

    • In other words, the solution to poverty is, if you can’t afford kids, keep it in your pants or keep your legs closed. Selfish lack of sexual self-control is the cause of poverty. Now I realize I can’t afford kids and never will be able to thank to Obama. I realize that American society has locked me out of ever being married thanks to its brainwashing women into thinking a guy has to make 100 thousand or more. And I’m ok with that. And yes, I look down on people who are starving in Africa yet knocking chicks up and popping out babies whose bellies are going to bloat with gases from starvation. That is selfish. I have the decency to keep it in my pants because I know its not morally right to bring a child into the world to languish in poverty — why can’t anyone else figure this out? I’m tired of being lectured to that I am rich, or as if I made the poor poor. They made themselves and their children poor because they won’t stop having sex when they should, they won’t stop drinking, they won’t stop smoking. They are selfish. Them, not me. If I was selfish, then I like them would spread my seed around and let my offspring starve like they do.

      • I can definitely understand where you’re coming from-your answers are logical. My appeal is that those who are Christians will have an abundant faith in God and give generously (directly to those in need/what’s mine is yours, not just to the church), even if it doesn’t make sense, isn’t logical and they aren’t very rich. What you’ve said about being locked into our lifestyle is very true. Nevertheless, to know that truth and to give anyway, is to trust in God to provide. In the early church, Acts 4:34, all the needs of the disciples were met because when they were each baptized, they forsake all for Christ and adopted a mindset of if their brother or sister in Christ was in need, they would supply the lack, even if they didn’t have much to give in the first place. There is no such equality with today’s disciples, and I just want to urge people to consider this. Yes, there will always be poverty, and sure, some poverty comes because of carelessness, but what of “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” in James 2:13? When we are humbled in the presence of God, I doubt we’ll resort to our silly worldly wisdom, logic and pride but rather wish we had been more merciful and generous as we plead for mercy in the sight of our Father.

      • I’m always in favor of creating fair conditions that can lead to equality. What I’m against is the idea that robbing from one person and giving to another does anything other than turn the recipient into a greedy pig. And in cases of prolonged charity its not different than in cases of government thievery. People living on handouts eventually become entitled and get angry with anyone who isn’t dolling it out to them. That’s why Paul said if a man will not work let him not eat. If I knew a man who was truly working and still not able to feed his family, I’d help. But in this land of plenty, and of welfare, and of free healthcare (yea, even before Obamacare) its unlikely you’ll ever meet anyone like that.

        If, therefore, we want to create equality among the disciples, rather than calling for communism, let us call for the end of the fashion show mentality. Let us create fair conditions which will naturally lead to more equality. The church is not supposed to be a fashion show. It dishonors the poor to force them to buy a 3 pieces suite to even come to worship God. The “Sunday best” mentality is not in the Bible. I figure, however, you’ll probably defend this practice. Call for communistic dolling out of cash, then defend forcing the poor to buy fancy clothes before they can enter your presence! A real nice thing to do. But I’ve seen it over and over, and it shows the concern for the poor is subterfuge disguising something else.

        If there’s a passage from James to be quoted, its the one about how its wrong to tell the man in fancy clothes “Here take the best seat” and the man in poor clothes, “sit at my footstool.” Unfortunately, in the CoC, the attitude seems to be that so long as we don’t assign seats we can dishonor the poor in the assembly. Instead of “sit at my footstool” its “we can’t let anyone lead a song unless they’re wearing a suit.” Furthermore, evangelism focuses on those of like socio-economic status…why? Oh, because only those of like socio-economic status can keep the silly dresscode, and God forbid that we convert anyone who might wear jeans and a T-shirt to the Sunday morning service. I mean, seriously, this is a case of pulling the plank out first. Nobody in the CoC has the right to start carping about the rich not giving enough until they get a hundle on the oppression of the poor by the fashion show mentality they cultivate in the church.

      • I actually very much agree with you about the clothing, and it’s a practice that doesn’t belong to the early church. My husband, who preaches, and I do not dress up, though yes, we used to defend that. I understand your frustration, but I hope it’s encouraging to know there are actually members of the church of Christ who “get it” like you have portrayed.

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