Is it fair that the rich have an advantage in life?

Author: BibleAsk Team

David in Psalm 49:16- 20 answered this very question when he wrote:

“Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (for men will praise you when you do well for yourself), he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish.”

The rich and poor are equal at death

In this passage, the psalmist teaches that riches cannot delay death. It also states that at death the wealthy become as the poor. Therefore, the humble should not become jealous of the wealthy, as they all come to the same resting place. What matters is which resurrection they will wake to, as they both have equal access to salvation.  Thus, the wealthy should not depend on their riches nor should the poor envy those with means. Thus, in this passage, the wealthy are warned and the poor are comforted.

It is easy for the wealthy, as well as the poor, to forget these solemn words.  But the truth is that one day, all that we possess will be left behind. The only thing that will have eternal value is our character. The values of true riches are what Jesus came to teach us.

Time and chance happen to all

The wise king Solomon wrote in his observations, “I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). While the rich may have some advantages in this life, time and chance cross every path. This means that even though one may be poor, he can make the best use of the time and opportunities granted to him.

This lesson is further taught in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-29). Each person was given different amounts, “to each according to his own ability.” One person was given five, one person was given two and one person was given only one talent. God may give us more or less, but he still requires us to make the most of what He has given. Just like the man in the story with one talent, we have a choice. We can either make excuses and bury our talent or put our time and talents to their best use. At the end, we all will give an account, whether rich or poor.

The righteous will inherit eternal life

The ultimate comfort that David the psalmist presents is seen in the glorified end of the righteous, which is eternal life.  “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me” (Psalm 49: 15). People in this life may praise a man for gathering riches but this is no guarantee of his ultimate, eternal prosperity.

In the Old Testament, Solomon summarized his experience and knowledge by the following passage, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). And in the New Testament, Jesus reiterated this truth based on love. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

Store up treasures in heaven

Therefore, it is man’s supreme objective in life, whether he is wealthy or poor, to offer loving obedience to his Creator. In doing this, he will find sure eternal prosperity and lasting happiness. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).  Thus, investments in the eternal, heavenly treasure appreciate with time, unlike earthly treasures which quickly pass away.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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