One of my great grandfathers on my father’s side was a very poor man. He worked cutting timber most of his life, and he and his wife and children lived in what my grandmother would call a “tar paper shack.” The shack did not even have a door when my grandmother was small, just some tar paper and quilts placed over the entrance. Later on, when my father was a child, my great grandparents lived in a house owned by the company my great grandfather worked for, and it was located in the middle of a lumber yard. In his later life, my great grandfather managed to gather enough money together to buy a few burial plots for his family at a local cemetery in our town.
After he had bought these plots, a very wealthy business owner came to my great grandfather saying that he was going to move all of my great grandfather’s burial plots to another part of the cemetery because the section in which my great grandfather chose to buy plots “wasn’t meant for poor people.” Obviously this made my great grandfather very angry, and to this day, that side of my family does not patronize that man’s business, even though both he and my great grandfather have been dead for many years.
We, as human beings, cannot imagine what it would be like to exist outside of this physical body and this physical world. That is why it is so easy for some people to focus too much on the money and material possessions that they have. This can be at the expense of their souls. “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25). This verse does not say that it is impossible for a rich person to go to Heaven, but it can be more challenging, because the more money a person has, the more that he or she is focused on making money rather than on God. Money can also change how some people treat others, such as in the example I gave in the beginning of this article. We are to treat everyone with love and respect, no matter what their social status is in life. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). God is the One who gives us what we have, and it is only through Him that the rich acquire their riches. “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up” (I Samuel 2:7).
Being poor also does not mean that a person is automatically going to Heaven. Sometimes those who are poor are so focused on improving their financial situation that they forget God. Too much focus on making money and acquiring luxuries in this life at the expense of spiritual salvation can cause anyone from any economic status to be lost. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:10). God does not care how much money we have. Thankfully, God only sees us for who we really are rather than what we have. He is not going to treat some people who have more money better than those who have little money, as some people are prone to do.
We must avoid making earthly possessions our idols before God. We can do this by focusing more on spiritual matters than the temporary cares of this world.“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. (Matthew 6:19-21).
By the way, the story that I told at the beginning of this article has a happy ending. It turned out that my great grandfather was able to keep the burial plots that he had already purchased, and he, my great grandmother, and other members of their family are buried there today.