One of the most prominent scriptures in the bible about money is Mathew 19:21 and it begins to answer this question. But the story doesn't bode well for the rich man. Although he lived a righteous life and was good, he was not willing to give up his possessions to follow Jesus.
The point Jesus is making here is that to fully live your life for the kingdom, everything you have is God's! Not just 10%
Rich men, camels, ropes and needles
So if you are rich or have a calling towards business can you still enter heaven?
In Mathew Chapter 19, Jesus tells his disciples "In fact, it’s easier to stuff a heavy rope[see footnote below] through the eye of a needle than it is for the wealthy to enter into God’s kingdom realm!”
The disciples who are stunned by his response then ask him "Who in the world can possibly saved?"
Then Jesus replies, "Humanly speaking, no one..."
Now it is time to add this into your perspective of who else is included in this eye of a needle allegory. It is all of us, everyone of course. Jesus is referencing salvation pre-cross at this point. Let us read on.
"But what seems impossible to you is never impossible to God!" Matthew 19:26 TPT
There is hope!
Nothing is impossible with God, but when you pursue business you ARE stepping into a difficult ministry. But any ministry is difficult - from being a business person with its unique challenges to being a missionary.
Footnotes from TPT:
- Matthew 19:24 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “to stuff a camel through the eye of a needle.” The Aramaic word for both “rope” and “camel” is the homonym gamla. This could be an instance of the Aramaic text being misread by the Greek translators as “camel” instead of “rope.” Regardless, this becomes a metaphor for something impossible. It would be like saying, “It’s as hard as making pigs fly!” See also Luke 18:25
The temptation of business is chiefly the temptation of mammon
First what is mammon?
Mammon is not money itself. Mammon is the "god of Money." as found in Mathew 6:24.
Money is neutral. Where you place money in your heart, and what you do with it, dictates whether money is serves the purposes of the kingdom of heaven or mammon.
"Isn’t it true that our hands were empty when we came into the world, and when we leave this world our hands will be empty again? Because of this, food and clothing is enough to make us content. But those who crave the wealth of this world slip into spiritual snares. They become trapped by the troubles that come through their foolish and harmful desires, driven by greed and drowning in their own sinful pleasures. And they take others down with them into their corruption and eventual destruction.Loving money is the first step toward all kinds of trouble. Some people run after it so much that they have given up their faith. Craving more money pushes them away from the faith into error, compounding misery in their lives! 1st Timothy 6:7-10 (TPT).
This verse seems pretty bleak. Here is the deal, the bible is full of seemingly contradictory statements if read incorrectly. Don't read Timothy 6:7-10 without reading the rest of the chapter. We'll get to that in a minute.
When you look deeper and and pull the entire work into context you will find not a list of instructions and to-do's, but a love letter. In the verse you just read we learn about the snares and dangers of giving our hearts to the pursuit of riches.
Jesus wants our hearts! With him anything is possible.
You are not too weak to be exposed to the ways of the world.
You have two choices. You can run and hide, or you can take the temptations of the world head-on. Through the power of the cross, you will conquer. Be in the world but not of the world.
Continue reading just a few short sentences later in Timothy and you'll find a beautiful image of a business person with their heart given to Jesus. You'll find an image of someone that pursued their passions with Jesus and never gave up their faith!
So Paul tells Timothy that he is "God's" man and to run from all these errors. Instead to chase after
- True holiness
- Tender Humility
- Fight with faith for the winners prize
- Lay your hands upon eternal life
Here we see what it looks like to be a person of the kingdom of heaven, no matter who you are. Did you know paul was a businessman? He was a tent maker and supported himself through the toil of his hands. Here is a wise man that has given his full heart and life to Jesus.
In these next verses, Paul from his wisdom and experience in these matters gives Timothy the keys for Jesus followers in business.
“To all the rich of this world, I command you not to be wrapped in thoughts of pride over your prosperity, or rely on your wealth, for your riches are unreliable and nothing compared to the living God. Trust instead in the one who has lavished upon us all good things, fulfilling our every need. Remind the wealthy to be rich in good works of extravagant generosity, willing to share with others. This will provide a beautiful foundation for their lives and secure for them a great future, as they lay their hands upon the meaning of true life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18
Your short time on this world (seventy years, maybe more maybe less) will be filled with work. David says in Psalm 90 that your time on this world will end with a simple “sigh.”
Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 2:24 that nothing is better than to eat, drink and find contentment in your own toil. But when you yourself blessed with more than you need (which in the United States is true for 99% of the people reading this), mammon will come knocking – and mammon wants your heart. So keep your heart firmly in Jesus’ care.
In the end, when you finally surrender your last breath to heaven’s embrace, you will not take anything with you.
You will find that your wealth in heaven is sprouted from how generous you were on earth.
The Kingdom of Heaven
We are all destined to work, and called to find satisfaction with our lives.
We all will face the temptations of mammon.
The kingdom of heaven, my friends, is not what we first expected.
The Jews thought Jesus came as a conquerer, yet he revealed that the King from heaven sacrifices and serves.
In the kingdom of heaven, the first are last and the last are first.
In the kingdom of heaven, you must die to yourself to find your life.
In the kingdom of heaven, a rich man is known by how much he gives away, not by how much he has.
A Kingdom Prayer
I could go on. I could talk about growth in the parable of the talents. I could talk about how our desire to build and create new things comes from God. But we will leave those for another time.
Instead, I will leave you with a question that I have been asking for twenty years. This is a question that applies to all people, yet most definitely applies to business people. It is a question that grew from prayer, the prayer that first came from Jesus’ lips.
God, what are you doing? How can I partner with your kingdom today? In my business, in my family, with the talents you have trusted me with, what does it look like for your kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven?