We are confident of our salvation when we have a comfortable life with all resources and wealth. In other words, we define salvation according to worldly blessings, and we pity those who do not have wealth by assuming that they have not obtained their salvation. Is there any connection between our blessings and riches? If we restrict “riches” within the boundaries of this world, the answer is no. At the same time, if we understand “riches” as the grace of God, then in this scenario, the riches of God have a nexus with our salvation.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
Disciples of Jesus connected their salvation to the earthly triumphs and riches of the world. On the road to Emmaus, a disciple confessed that he expected Jesus to conquer Jerusalem. Almost all of His disciples were taken aback when a rich man, who they thought was a potential candidate for the Kingdom of God, came to Jesus asking about Eternal Life. But it turned out to be otherwise. Jesus said it is easier for a camel to enter into the eye of a needle than this rich man entering His Kingdom with all his earthly possessions. The disciples wondered that if a blessed person is denied entry to the Kingdom then who else can be eligible? Their question revealed how deeply they believed that salvation is available only to the rich.
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”Luke 18:23-26 (NIV)
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
The Gospel of Luke resembles the other Synoptic Gospels in its narration of the life of Jesus. Yet, the Gospel of Luke goes beyond them in highlighting the ministry of Jesus, widening its perspective to consider God’s unique purpose. Only Luke records the parable of an unnamed rich man and a beggar Lazarus, told by Jesus to His disciples and some pharisees to make them understand His kingdom before this incident (Luke 16:19-31).
Despite the teachings through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the idea of connecting worldly blessings to spiritual blessings continues. James criticized the shepherds for giving importance to the wealthy group in the synagogues and the churches. Some affluent Corinthian Christians abused the Lord’s Supper by marginalizing poor Christians.
Even today, people with menial jobs who do not own houses and vehicles do not get any recognition in their churches. Somehow we equate worldly blessings with His priceless salvation. God does not value our outward appearance and status, but He cares for the eternity of our souls, and He does not want to lose any. The Gospel of Luke draws our attention to the teachings of Jesus that we should not take wealth as a guarantee for our salvation.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.Luke 12:15 (NIV)
Jesus reiterates this teaching by telling a parable of a rich man with an abundant harvest when he planned to store the grain by replacing the barns with bigger ones.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:20-21 (NIV)
Does Wealth Deter Our Spiritual Blessings?
Misunderstanding the above parable, many local Pastors discourage the believers from accumulating wealth and, at the same time, appeal to the believers to make them wealthy. Wealth does not deter our spiritual blessings, but the passion for wealth stops a person from entering His Kingdom. Once a person becomes rich, inadvertently, he tends to love and protect his possessions more than God and his faith in Him.
Having wealth does not prevent us from receiving salvation, but the passion for wealth causes our spiritual erosion. God created everything on this earth and told us to enjoy and have dominion over them. Unfortunately, the love that people show toward wealth paves the way for wealth to dominate people.
When this scenario changed, people stopped loving God. Instead, they loved the world and everything in it. Everything is good for us in the precept of God, but we use them for our destruction. Wealth is a source to understand God’s goodness if we attribute our blessing to God. When we know the ways of God, wealth can not deter any of our spiritual growth but will pave the way to have them abundantly.
Is Poverty A Sign Of Not Owning The Salvation?
People who take wealth as a symbol of their salvation believe that poverty is the outcome of their sins. Neither wealth nor poverty has anything to do with a person’s salvation. Because salvation comes through repentance, with penitence, therefore both rich and poor have equal access to it. Sometimes, the rich are reluctant to repent because of the pleasure and satisfaction they derive from their wealth. But the poor have ample opportunities to regret their sins and receive salvation. The poor rejoice in God despite their poverty. Probably, the rich do not rejoice in God as they rejoice in their wealth.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV)
When we hesitate to give up our wealth, we find fault with the people who are lavishly spending for the extension of His Kingdom. Judas Iscariot who was unhappy about wasting the costliest perfume accrued his lust for money and finally betrayed Jesus for the same money. Mostly poor people would be looking forward to their next meal or some money to spend for the day. God taught us to pray for the provision of our daily bread, not for our lifetime bread. God desires that every day we should rely on Him for resources. But people ask God to bless them in bulk to avoid their daily exercise of meeting both ends. A Samaritan woman mistook the living water that Jesus explained and asked Jesus to provide her with the water to avoid her daily exercise of coming to the well to fetch water.
Poverty is not a sign of not being saved, but a rich source to rely on God to receive salvation. Poverty does not give us an opportunity to hoard anything but leads us to give everything to God. A poor widow offered God everything she had. Peter and John chose to be poor to exercise the powerful name of Jesus. But the land owners, Ananias and Sapphira had sufficient money to hoard something for themselves and lied in the presence of the Holy Spirit that they had given everything.
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;Proverbs 30:8-9 (NIV)
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
The above verse has an imprint on most of the believers’ life, and they opt neither to become rich nor poor. With this mindset, when the Gospel unfolds its blessings, they mistake it for prosperity Gospel. Like Solomon, we should not be afraid of becoming rich or poor but should rely on our Living Bread to adore God above all our riches and recognize His provision even in our poverty.
Whether rich or poor, if a person has learned to ask God daily for his spiritual food, God will give him a humble heart to know His incredible provisions. The scripture quotes the lives of our ancestors whom God humbled to receive His unique blessings. This event is recorded in the scripture to encourage us to rely on God irrespective of our fortunes.
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.Deuteronomy 8:3-4 (NIV)