Why Is It Difficult For A Rich Man To Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

There’s much ado about money being the root of all evil. It would seem especially so among those who haven’t earned it.

Behind veils of envy, I imagine, those of lesser means point to those of great means, scoffing. “You know what they say about rich men and heaven, right?”

But I seriously doubt the acquisition of wealth itself has anything to do with entering the kingdom of heaven. That it likely has much more to do with our relationship to money.

For instance, there’s a startling similarity between people who are consumed with money โ€“ whether they have it or not.

Money is simply a medium of exchange (especially fiat money). Its value is predicated on a shared superstition. We hope others will value money along a similar scale, should we present them with it in exchange for something else we desire.

Obsessing over money as a primary end is a distraction. When it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven, apparently it can be a fatal distraction.

But why?

I imagine it has less to do with money and much more to do with idolatry. People have always enjoyed fashioning gods out of gold. Especially when God’s voice seems distant, or absent altogether.

It’s unfortunate that many people likely read scripture about money and become jaded. “Well I’ll just swear off money altogether since it’s evil!”

Ok, sure. I bet you will.

Swearing off money is easy if you have nothing valuable to offer the world. But it’s much harder if you want to be valuable. Because money follows value.

So, let’s imagine, then, that God has called His people to become the highest, best versions of themselves. To truly embrace what John Piper calls “Christian Hedonism” โ€“ to lose ourselves in the pursuit of the pleasure we find by pleasing God.

What then should we do if God’s highest calling leads us to become valuable to other people? If we’re rewarded handsomely for leaving the world better than we found it, what are we to do?

I believe the root of the matter has less to do with material wealth than with spiritual health.

Perhaps your pursuit of what is meaningful requires vast sums of money. So be it. Why should you be cheated out of salvation? Especially considering the difficulty in acquiring vast sums of money.

Perhaps your pursuit of what is meaningful requires enduring suffering? So be it. Why should your struggle be any more or less noble than the pursuit of what is meaningful along another dimension?

It’s a rather Marxist reduction to suppose God wants us to obsess over all things according to their economic utility.

We are called to our own battlefields. It’s our response to the call that matters. Plenty of people ignore the rooster’s crow. Some due to money. Some out of lust. Others for the sake of power.

But money is no more or less evil than anything else that we fashion into false gods. It would serve us well to remember that.