"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." ~ Mark 10:25
Do rich people have a harder time with morality than poor people? Are they more susceptible to character blemishes than those in poverty? Do people with a lot of money have more to overcome in their ethical decision-making than those who only have a little money?
Recent research reported in an article on MSNBC.com seems to answer these questions with a resounding "Yes!". According to the article, University of California Berkeley researchers repeatedly showed that upper-class individuals were more prone to unethical behavior than people from more deprived backgrounds.
Now before you start thinking I'm just automatically about to jump on the bandwagon that all rich people are evil, we need to compare their research to something Jesus said more than 2000 years ago - that it's easier for camels to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for rich people to get to heaven. What Jesus was really saying is that the task of trying to be a "godly rich" person is impossible - without the power of Christ fully at work in our lives - because the temptations of this world are too strong for us to resist.
We can look at the wisest man to ever live, who also happened to be one of the richest that ever lived - Solomon - and see that even with all his wisdom he was still unable to live a completely holy life, because he strayed from living by God's principles and standards. Now all of his issues weren't necessarily related to money, but who's to say that his financial excess didn't lead him to desire the same kind of excess in other areas of his life, specifically with women. Is it possible that God's blessings led to Solomon's downfall? Well, it can happen to anyone of us who start enjoying the gift more the Giver. I would also submit that God is holding back blessings for many people who He knows would start living sinfully if He blessed them like He's capable of. So in reality, some people's current lack of finances is for their own good. However, God doesn't want their character to stay in that place, because He really desires to pour on them mind-blowing, abundant blessings.
It's important to be clear what Scripture actually says about money. It's the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), not money itself. It's interesting that this verse doesn't refer at all to how much money a person has. So a poor person can have just as much of an unhealthy lust for money as a rich person might have. How much you have is irrelevant to what your heart attitude is towards money.
Fortunately, Jesus died for everybody, even rich people. The answer to the rich man's dilemma is a few verses past Mark 10:25 where Jesus says, "... with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." So, according to Jesus, a person can be rich and godly at the same time. You don't have to be poor to be pious. You can be wealthy and worship God with a pure heart.
Will there be rich people in heaven? Absolutely! Will they have gotten there because of their riches? Absolutely not! Will they be excluded because of their riches? Absolutely not!
If you are pursuing money for money's sake, you will end up inheriting the wind. It will use you up, throw you away, and then wait for its next greedy victim. However, if you pursue God's purposes for your life, He will provide the money you need to succeed.
What are your thoughts about how hard it is to be rich and righteous?
Read the full MSNBC article here: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10512938-rich-people-more-likely-to-cheat-behave-badly-research-finds
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Amos Johnson Jr.
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