SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Image Map
See Opportunities to Serve with SermonIndex
Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : No Double Standard for Rich and Poor

Print Thread (PDF)


Joined: 2006/1/19
Posts: 1406

 No Double Standard for Rich and Poor

No Double Standard for Rich and Poor

I know it will be asked, "Where can be the impiety of getting and enjoying houses and lands and other earthly possessions?
Is it not honorable and a matter of just praise to provide property and other goods for one's family?
And what are people of noble birth and fortune to do if they are not to live lives suitable to their station in life?"

The doctrine set before us is not mine; hence I do not have to defend it against such questions as these. The same people may ask why the little span of life is made a state of trial and probation, in which men of all conditions are to,
"work out [their] salvation with fear and trembling."1

He who thinks it lawful and creditable to make it the care and design of his life to heap up possessions is too blind to be convinced by arguments. He may with as much regard to Scripture say that it is lawful to swear falsely when he knows he is forbidden so to do.

Our Lord says,
"Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life."2
He commands us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth; He assures us that we cannot serve God and mammon.

These words have no meaning if it is still lawful for Christians to heap up treasures and to labor for great possessions for the enrichment of their families.

I don't question but that the rich young man in the gospel, who had kept the
Commandments of God from his youth could have made a very good apology for himself and have shown how reasonable and innocent it was for so good and so young a man to enjoy earthly goods.

The rich man in torments could have alleged how much good he did with his fortune, how many trades he encouraged by his purple and fine linen and faring sumptuously every day, and how he served society by spending his money freely.

The Apostle says,
"Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content, that they who will be rich fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."3

We may pretend, notwithstanding what the writer says of a "snare" and a "temptation" and foolish "lusts," that we can pursue the means and desire the happiness of riches without any danger to our virtue.
If so, we are as prudent as those Christians who think they can secure their virtue without watching and prayer, though our Savior said,

"Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."4

If we will not be so humble and teachable as to conform to Scripture in the simplicity and plainness of its doctrines, there will be no end of our errors, but we will be in as much darkness as where the light of Scripture never appeared.

The rich man in the gospel was a ruler, a young man, and a good man. If there are any among us that are neither young nor good, it can hardly be thought that they have less to do to inherit eternal life than the young man in the gospel.

The gospel has made no provision for dignity of birth or difference in fortune, but has appointed the same strait gate as the common passage for all persons to enter into glory.

The distinctions of civil life have their use and are in some degree necessary, but if anyone thinks he may be less devoted to God, less afraid of the corruptions of pleasure and the vanities of pride because he was born of one family rather than another, he is as much mistaken as he who fancies he has a right to steal because he was born of a father who was poor.

Why may not poor people give themselves to discontent, to impatience and repining?
Is it not because Christianity requires the same virtues in all states of life?
Is it not because the rewards of religion are sufficient to make us thankful in every condition?
Who does not see that the same reasons equally condemn the gratifications, the sensual indulgences of the rich as the discontents and repinings of the poor?

Hence, a great man taking his swing in worldly pleasures in the various gratifications which plenty can furnish is as good a Christian as the poor man who resigns himself to discontent and spends his time and spirits in restless complaints and repinings.

If the joys of religion and our hopes in Christ are sufficient to make us rejoice in tribulation and be thankful to God in the hardships of poverty, surely the same hopes in Christ must be equally sufficient to make us forbear the luxury and softness and all other pleasures of imaginary greatness.

If, therefore, the rich or great men can find a course of pleasure that supports no wrong turn of mind, a luxury and indulgence which won't gratify sensual delights, or
entertainments which indulge no vain and weak passions; if they find self-enjoyments of their riches that show they love God with all their strength and their neighbors as
themselves; if they can find instances of splendor and greatness that gratify neither the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, nor the pride of life," religion has no command against such enjoyments.

Let it be remembered, that if any distinctions of life make men forget that sin is their only baseness and holiness their only honor, if any condition makes them less disposed to imitate the low, humble estate of their suffering Master, or to forget that they are to return to God by humiliation, repentance, and self-denial, instead of being of any real advantage, it is their curse, their snare and destruction.

Had there been any other lawful way of employing our wealth, than in the assistance of the poor, our Lord would not have confined the rich young man, to that one way of employing all that he had.

If there were no sin in pampering ourselves with our riches, our Savior would not have said,
"Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation."5
Had a delight in the greatness and splendor of this life been an innocent delight for people of birth and fortune, He would never have said,
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."6

Had worldly mirth and splendor been any part of the happiness of Christians, He would not have said,
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."7
Thus, it appears from almost every part of Scripture that a renunciation of the world and worldly enjoyments, either of pleasure or pride, is the necessary attitude of all Christians of every state and condition.

I know it will still be objected that the different states of life are indifferent in themselves and are made good or evil by the attitudes of the people who enjoy them; a man is not necessarily vain because he lives in a low estate.
It is granted that a man in a low estate may be very vain and proud because he is in such a state by circumstances and is restless and uneasy until he can raise himself out of it.

If the same can be said of any man who lives in splendor, that he is in it by force of circumstance and is restless and uneasy until he can lay all aside and live in a humble and lowly state, it may be granted that such a man, though in the height of splendor, may be as humble as another who lives in starving circumstances may be proud.

But nothing can be more false than to conclude that because a man may be in a low estate without having lowliness of mind, that, therefore, another may live in all height of grandeur without having any height or vanity of mind.
Again, who does not know that a man may give all his goods to feed the poor and yet want charity?
But will anyone therefore conclude that another may keep all his goods to himself and yet have charity?
It is as well argued to say that because a man has nothing to spend, he may yet be proud; though another may layout his estate in vain expenses, he may yet have true humility of mind.

A man is humble, not for what he has already done, but because it is his continual disposition to oppose and reject every temptation to pride. Charity is a continual struggle with the contrary qualities of self-love and envy.

Virtue is a progressive quality of mind that is always laboring to preserve itself.

Those who suppose that they may be so complete in the virtue of humility that they may be truly humble in the enjoyments of splendor and vanity do not consider that humility is never finished, and that it ceases to exist when it ceases to oppose and reject every appearance of pride.

This is the true state of every virtue: resisting and opposing all the temptations to the contrary vice.
To suppose, therefore, a man so truly humble that he may live in all appearances of pride and vanity is as-absurd as to suppose a man so inwardly sober that he need refuse no strong drink, so inwardly charitable that he need not avoid quarrels, or so holy that he need not resist temptations to sin.

The necessity of renouncing the world in whatever condition of life we are, besides what appears from particular commands, may be proved from those great degrees of holiness that Christianity requires.

1. Philippians 2:12 2. John 6:27
3. 1 Timothy 6:8-9 4. Matthew 26:41
5. Luke 6:24 6. Matthew 5:3 7. Matthew 5:4

William Law


 2008/1/28 20:00Profile

Joined: 2004/10/6
Posts: 114

 Re: No Double Standard for Rich and Poor

Good study. This subject will get alot of justification and reasoning going on while people (we) will continue to do what we believe to be right whether scripture condemns it or not until God strikes our heart with conviction. I have recently read some on the doctrine of non accumulation and this subject covers alot. Just like this topic suggests, it isn't by class or station but by the heart. I can accumulate stuff from the mall or Goodwill and it won't matter the cost, but my heart is bent toward accumulating stuff. I worked in financial services for a couple of years and was amazed at the number of people who have hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed that their only goal was to get it to the next generation without tax consequence. This is many times money they will never need themselves, but won't give up (nor feel that it is wrong to keep it). Yet a slothful person will not accumulate (gather) food for his family and is justified because society owes him. To read the scriptures with "virgin" eyes again to see what is said about this is necessary for a right understanding. Thanks for the topic. Blessings, Barry

Barry Voss

 2008/1/29 6:01Profile

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy