My Mind has been blown... Revisiting Wealth.

We will first look at three common wealth passages of Jesus, look at the justified interpretations, then the contextual interpretation with Scriptural and early church quote support.

There are three passages that the church argues over when it comes to wealth and accumulation. Many men have justified these passages but I have seen a revelatory connection.

The first passage comes from Matthew 6:19-21 & 24:
  • "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also... No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
There are generally two interpretations of this passage; sell everything or do not over-value wealth. My view is that we should sell everything (this is my bias but I will stick to context). John Wesley's view is non-accumulation (Text (Start with point 9): here or the video version: here). The general view is to not over-value your treasures. This has been used against me numerous times and my only argument has been crudely based on semantics. I would say, "If by 'treasure' Jesus meant emotional attachment, then he wouldn't have the used the word heart. For your heart is the symbol of emotional attachment and here, in your interpretation, you are saying that treasure is, but heart surely follows treasure." To say the least, not very convincing. But there is another passage that interpret this, but first we will see another like this.

This one is about the rich young ruler. It is found in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18:
  • "A certain ruler asked him, 'Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. 'No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'

    'All these I have kept since I was a boy,' he said.

    When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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.'"

I have heard this preached countless times that the rich young ruler had a problem with wealth as it deterred him from following Christ. Critics of this view say that Christ rarely has isolated conversation but used all things for teaching, but again this is not very provable. Now, as Christians, we believe that Scripture is supreme over even our conscious and is best interpreted by other scripture. Here is the key verse. It is the same passage as the first, just the lucan version.

Luke 12:32-34:
  • "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
This is the less read version compared to Matthew 6. If I was going to give the other interpretation the benefit of the doubt, I would say, "Maybe it is because Mt. 6 comes way before Luke 12" but I don't think I will. This version is so much clearer and leaves ambiguous interpretation out. "Sell your possessions and give to the poor..." cannot be changed or justified. Why does He tell us to do this, so that we will provide for ourselves, "treasure in heaven." This is absolutely key.

First, it provides enough of a connection to Matt. 6 to enlighten what was being said and meant. Second, it makes the words to the rich young ruler exactly pertinent to us. He tells the rich young ruler to "Sell everything you have and give to the poor..." which is almost the exact wording of the treasure passages. It is the next part of that sentence that clinches it, "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."

The phrase "treasure(s) in heaven" is used 5 times in all of scripture. All the times it is used is either in telling us to store them up (by ridding ourselves of earthly ones) or in the story of the rich young rulers accounts (which is telling him to store them up by ridding himself of his earthly ones).

There correlation here seems so obvious to me that I am furious. I feel like I am an idiot and yet I found this correlation by just scratching the surface. This view coupled with other scripture, example, and witness convicts me to the point of confusion. How could the great men before me justify these words to the point that wealth is now welcomed? John Wesley says on the Mt. 6 passage, "But how do observe what they profess to receive as a command of the most high God? Not at all! not in any degree; no more than if no such command had ever been given to man" (Sermon 28, pt. 9).

The Next blog will be the early churches living out of this because this went long (sorry).

Blessings and Peace!

Comments

  1. Jaymes, you seem to be bringing it these days. I enjoy and extremely dislike your writing all at once. I know it's what I need to hear, but I don't really like to hear it.

    I appreciate your scriptural citation, but I think that the story of the rich young ruler is not first and foremost about wealth, as I myself have argued before. I think it is a story about what is impossible with man being possible with G-d.

    Regardless of this small dispute I am once again confronted with the drastic nature of attempting to follow a homeless Savior.

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  2. Jason,
    I think you are right (even if I didn't say it before) about this passage being about more than mere money. But, I also believe that it is a major proof for what Christ requires. "Unshackle ourselves and Follow. And even though it might seem impossible, God can do anything..." I will definitely agree to that, but still use it as a minor proof.

    Thank you so much reading, you have blessed me!

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