Jesus said that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Why is that?
Jesus’ statement shocked his disciples. Back in those days, most people assumed that the wealthy had an inside track into God’s presence. After all, prosperity was seen as a sign of God’s blessing. That’s why the disciples were astonished at Jesus statement about rich men and asked in response, “Who, then, can be saved?”
I’ll add another one to it.
“Does that mean wealth and prosperity are a curse?”
If riches make it virtually impossible for a rich person to go to heaven (ever try squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle?), wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that prosperity is a curse rather than a blessing?
Back in May of 2000, with my first book contract in hand, I launched out in prison ministry by faith. I planned to support my wife and two children through the steady and reliable career of freelance writing. I reasoned that the royalties from my computer book (How to Do Everything with HTML) and future books would sustain us. Silly me.
I have since learned that the only authors who live on book royalties have last names like Grisham, Clancey, King, and so on.
Over the last twelve years our income has gone up and down like a roller coaster. During that time I have made an interesting observation:
My sense of dependency on God is inversely proportional to the size of my bank account.
Whenever our checking account began to dwindle, my prayer life became very focused. I knew that God was our ultimate provider and I prayed that he would provide work or cash. I wasn’t particularly picky. When the account was down to a zero (or negative!) balance, I prayed really hard.
Yes, my faith grew during those times. But what intrigued me was what would happen when the income would roll in.
The life of a freelance writer tends to be feast or famine.
And although I found it easy to trust God during the “famine” times, when the big checks would come in and our bank accounts were full, I found myself relaxing.
My prayers weren’t so urgent. My spiritual life was less disciplined. I wasn’t looking to God for his provision moment by moment.
That’s the danger of prosperity.
The book of Psalms provides wise counsel where prosperity is concerned: “Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:10b, NIV).
Jesus said that it is hard for the rich to enter heaven because riches draw our dependence away from God. After all, why pray “give us this day our daily bread” when we have enough “bread” in the bank for months and months to come?
Prosperity is not a curse, but it is one of the greatest tests of faith that a person will ever face.