A Major Disadvantage of Wealth
Wealth has its advantages. It’s a lot easier to fly first class than battle with fellow passengers to find even a place to put your elbow in economy. At the entrance to a five star hotel do you want to be the parking attendant who takes the keys and parks the BMW or the one who steps out as the owner and gives a big tip? Would you rather be the rich relative who can give loans or the poor relative everyone puts on hold because you need a loan?
The Book of Proverbs is realistic about the advantages of wealth. Money can provide a measure of security (Proverbs 10:15), multiply the number of your friends (Proverbs 14:20), and provide a base for political power (Proverbs 22:7), but according to Jesus in the Book of Luke, it has one major disadvantage. Riches might keep us out of the Kingdom of God.
“But woe to you who are rich, because you have your comfort.
Woe to you, those being satisfied now, because you will be hungry in the future.
Woe to you who are laughing now, because you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you because this is exactly how their
forefathers treated the false prophets.” - Luke 6:24-26
This is one place where we must track the Story. Jesus is not saying that the rich automatically are excluded as a social category from enjoying His Kingdom in the future and the poor are “in.” According to Jesus, the issue is how we treat true or false prophets (vv. 23, 26). In the Old Testament those who listened to a prophet like Jeremiah and recognized their need for a New Covenant and a new heart (Jeremiah 31) made the right choice even though they did a lot of crying because of rejection and suffering.
Now Luke is presenting the teaching of the ultimate prophet, God’s Son. Those willing to lose their wealth, position, and security because they choose to follow Him will face rejection and persecution but in the end they will be laughing as they enjoy God’s ultimate party. Those who ignore or reject Jesus, choosing to party now as they seek to maintain their positions, wealth and power, will end up on the wrong side of history.
The poor have an advantage. They are forced to face the fragileness of life in the present. So it’s easier for them to open themselves to Jesus and trust Him. In this case wealth can be a major disadvantage.
LORD, thanks for the fact that You don’t exclude all the rich from Your Kingdom. Thanks for rich men, like Joseph of Arimathea, who loved Your Son and provided a burial place for Him in the crucifixion episode of Luke. Help me today, whether rich or poor, to find my security completely in You.
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