Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: “Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Happy are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.”
Source: Luke 6:20-21, 24
Jesus lays out the principles of the Kingdom of God. This excerpt is from what is known as the Sermon on the Plain. It is similar but slightly different than the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, he also has a series of “woe to you” statements.
So what is going on here? Jesus enunciates a theme we see throughout everything he teaches. This is not out of context (see here). It is not about being wealthy here in this world. We need to focus on Kingdom of God wealth and not earthly wealth. We’ll be happy here if we are poor. We will grieve if we are rich.
Jesus is clear that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)
Is wealth a God? Jesus frames it that way. We can see that in America with the Secularist / Materialist religion. In America, most of us have material possessions that when seen from the perspective of third world countries is stunning.
So really? Is what Jesus asserts here and in many other places really true in my life? Am I happy because I am poor? Am I grieving because I am rich? What is my reality? These are questions to be asked and answered. Jesus wants to know. Jesus confronts me with a new sense of how things are in his Kingdom, where his rules apply. I am confused because I am not sure this is what I signed up for. This is tougher than I thought it would be. Did the “prosperity ministers” deceive me? Are they false prophets? The answer is actually yes. Woe to the “prosperity ministers”!
So as I read this I must ask myself, where am I storing up my treasure? Another serious question from Jesus. Jesus wants to know.
‘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.”
Source: Matthew 6:19-21
So how about this from James? God has chosen the poor, not the rich, to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom. Is my richness in faith or my 401K? Is my trust in my credit cards?
“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose 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 (NASB95)