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Riches are Obstacles for Entry into Heaven


RICHES ARE OBSTACLES FOR ENTRY INTO HEAVEN

Riches are obstacles for entry into heaven for the following reasons:

(1) The wealthy shall seek security in personal possessions than in God’s providence. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17). The Bible speaks of the folly of trusting in riches – “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but like green leaves the just will flourish” (Prov 11:28). Though Judas Iscariot had left everything for Jesus, the greed for money and the urge for false security in it made him fail in his noble vocation as an apostle.

(2) The rich may forget God, who blesses them with riches. Moses had warned the Israelites while preparing for their entry into the Promised Land: “Be careful not to forget the LORD, your God, by failing to keep his commandments and ordinances and statutes which I enjoin on you today: lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built fine houses and lived in them, and your herds and flocks have increased, your silver and gold has increased, and all your property has increased, you then become haughty of heart and forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that house of slavery” (Deut 8:11-14).

(3) People who are desperate for wealth might resort to unethical practices and take advantage of others. Paul wrote, “Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Tim 6:9-10). When Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus as a guest, he realized his exploitation of others to accumulate wealth and pledged, “if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over” (Lk 19:8).

(4) A rich person shall become uncharitable with less concern for others. The failure of the Rich Man in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus was his lack of concern for Lazarus and others less fortunate in the community. The success of Zacchaeus was his willingness to share half of his property with the poor (Lk 19:8). To this Jesus responded, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9). John asks, “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” (1 Jn 3:17) Jesus had compassion for the poor, mingled with them, and helped them in their misery. He even identified with the poor in the verdict of his last judgement. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:35-36).

Jesus said, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Lk 12:15). The advice of Jesus to the rich is: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:19-21). The wealthy, according to Jesus, must make use of the prosperity to build up the kingdom of God because gaining eternity in heaven is more meritorious than the temporal riches of the world. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it” (Mt 13:44-46).

When Jesus said it will be hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he did not imply the impossibility, but the pain of giving up worldly riches. Indeed, greed and selfishness would thwart the efforts of such people at doing so. The unwillingness to share our resources with others would be a snare in our spiritual life. Hence, Jesus asks: “What profit would there be for one to gain the entire world and forfeit one’s life?” (Mt 16:26)

A Christian has to be spiritually fruitful. However, worldly ambitions and selfishness can hinder that productivity. While explaining the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said to the disciples, “The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit” (Mt 13:22).

 


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