Does God Reject Rich People?

While some people will insist that God wants everyone to be rich and wealthy and enjoy their best life now, others will insist that the Bible consistently displays a negative opinion of rich people. The conversation between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler would be offered as a prime example of this disdain.

While I certainly don’t advocate “name it & claim it” or “your best life now” theologies, it’s equally wrong to teach that Jesus held rich people in low regard.

May I invite you to walk step-by-step through the interchange between Jesus and the RYR? I’m going to blend the Matthew and Mark passages for clarity. (And before we begin, may I point out that only Mark’s gospel says that Jesus ‘loved’ him. I find that very peculiar.)

The Passage

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. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

He said to him, “Which ones?”

And Jesus said “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 love your neighbor as yourself’”

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth. What else do I lack?”

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: if you would be perfect, 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.”

Let’s step back and ask ourselves a few questions:

Q1: What has Jesus been saying from Day1 about the requirements of entering the kingdom of heaven?
A1: [+]From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17)

Q2: Has repentance always been the requirement for heaven?
A2: Yes. God required it in the Old Testament, Jesus never changed it, nor did the Apostles.

So when we see a situation that appears to not require repentance, at the very least, warning lights should go off, prompting us to look closely.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the exchange between Jesus and the RYR.

– The RYR asks Jesus what he must do to get eternal life. So much for it being a gracious gift, eh? The RYR, like most Jews, is approaching it in a typical 1st-century Jewish works-based mindset.

– Jesus prefaces His answer with a hypothetical question: “Why are you calling Me ‘good'”? The purpose behind His question is two-fold. a) He’s challenging the RYR’s ideas about Good and divine sources of Truth
b) He’s laying out an ultimatum to the RYR: If I’m ‘Good’ are you going to obey, or is this an academic exercise?

..more to come…

– We all know the answer is repent, but Jesus gives him so

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