The Bible teaches Christians to keep God’s will foremost in their lives. This means keeping His commandments and seeking above all else “the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Rich or poor, Christians must be saving up “a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” As Jesus explained, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:33-34).
Scripture says that Jesus, “though He was rich… for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). This means true Christians will be rich in spiritual blessings because Christ became poor. It does not necessarily mean Christians will become rich with material goods in this age.
Whether rich or poor in this world, the responsibility of every Christian is to keep the will of God first in their lives.
Many Christians are born into poverty, having no choice in the matter. For example, faithful believers who love God and do all His commandments live in the poorer countries of the world. In fact, God has called many poor into His church. James the apostle asked, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).
The Bible teaches Christians to be content with their lot in life. Paul the apostle wrote, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). It is virtuous of a Christian to remain undistracted by the riches of the world while being committed to Christ. For, “better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble” (Proverbs 15:16).
The poverty of some is caused by unwise financial decisions or by refusing to work. The Bible says, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor” (Proverbs 10:4). Christians are always admonished to work and earn their keep. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We urge you, brethren, that you… work with your own hands… that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12). One who is lazy and will not work is not showing Christian behavior.
Though Christ never taught it was wrong to have wealth, He did warn about the snare of riches. For example, there was a rich young man who came to Him during His ministry. He asked Jesus what He must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told Him, “sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). As the episode unfolds, the rich young man could not bring himself to do this. He “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22).
At this point, Jesus said to His disciples, “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). This is because the care of riches in this life can be a snare for a Christian. A Christian’s heart cannot be set on riches and cares of this world above the Kingdom of God. In another example, the parable of the sower, Jesus warned that some who receive the word of God will allow their spiritual growth to be choked off by “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22). These things show us that being poor can help a Christian not to be ensnared by such things.
Though Christians may be poor in this world, it is God’s will to eventually eliminate poverty. The Bible speaks in much detail of a coming time of peace and prosperity on earth when poverty will be wiped out. God the Father has a plan to send His Son back to earth in great power and glory. “He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained” (Acts 17:31).
Until that day, God is continually searching the hearts of His people to know what is in them. He allows some Christians to be poor, even while other believers have wealth. What a Christian does in each circumstance is important to God. In the book of Revelation, the glorified Jesus Christ said to one of His churches, "I know your… poverty, but you are rich” (Revelation 2:9). That is, these Christians were poor in the wealth of this world, but were rich in faith toward God.
To another church, Christ said, “you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). These Christians, though rich with material goods of this world were very poor in faith.
Whether rich or poor in this world, the responsibility of every Christian is to keep the will of God first in their lives. As Jesus said, “one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." (Luke 12:15). A zealous Christian who may be poor in the things of this world will be rich in faith toward God.