CAN A RICH MAN GET TO HEAVEN?
“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13 (KJV)
First off, the scripture cited does not answer the question, but it does refer to Jesus' repeated references in the Bible which discuss how much more difficult it is for a rich man (or woman) to get to heaven than a poor one. So, the answer is that a rich man certainly CAN get to heaven but it is exceedingly difficult. Why is that?
Well, just picture the two extreme categories of mankind and I think it becomes rather obvious. Let's look at the poor man first. The poor man is wanting and needing help and it is much more likely that if he becomes acquainted with the Holy Triumvirate that He will take the message God offers to heart. He is down and out and is looking for something to place his hope in and what could be better than the Living God, a most gracious and generous God who wants to welcome all of us at the appointed time to heaven if only we believe by faith. A man who is desperate for help is much more likely to listen and take God up on His offer.
When you contrast that with the rich man, however, he is often so self-absorbed and self-indulgent, those traits being acquired by his lifestyle and his thinking that he can focus on unlimited wealth which precludes time for God. That's what Jesus meant in Luke by mentioning "mammon." He has to make a choice of one Master for "mammon" in this case means wealth, be it money, material things or both. He has been conditioned to believe he has it all or can acquire what he doesn't have and it becomes the thing he worships, just another false god that God warns against. His trouble is made worse by the influence of the Evil One who strives to take each of us down by our weakness wherever it is found. It's easy for him to find the weapon to destroy the rich man by bringing him down to his pit of hell in his heart.
Now, this doesn't preclude a rich man from going to heaven and certainly many have done so and will continue to do so. But in a society which is becoming more and more secularized by design, the influence of God wanes and this serves much more to the detriment of the rich man. It's easy to succumb to your wants and desires and harden you heart when godly influence is removed.
I think, however, it's also very important to realize the influences today of secularism and how they are used to separate the goodness of God from what we might call a brotherhood of man concept. Today, many will argue that you should have no objection to the government raising taxes for huge social welfare programs which become burdensome and top heavy on overhead, thereby precluding good works and also eliminating the credit for goodness going to God instead of man. Many follow this approach and it has a deep flaw and it's this. Every dollar spent by government is, in its truest sense, confiscation of resources from individuals. To get to heaven requires believing in God and, furthermore, the good deeds done and money spent has to be a voluntary contribution. Taking money from people under the force of government is not love, it may result in some good coming of it, but it is not from love. Real love comes from people giving of themselves because they want to in their hearts.
The bottom line to all of this is God wants us to love and praise Him and He desires that when our life is done that we will have made a free will choice to join Him in His Kingdom, thereby becoming part of that Kingdom. Rich and poor alike can certainly reach that goal, but it requires their buy-in to the concept of putting God first in our lives. Anything short of that will keep us from accomplishing that task and that makes it impossible to achieve. Do we all fall short? Of course we do, for we are all mortal sinners. The point, however, is for us to get back up when that happens, brush ourselves off and get back to work through our devotion to Him. But for the rich, living in opulence and able to buy and go where they want with plenty to spare makes it a much more difficult choice until they realize that they can't take it with them. If they don't, they will fail. And if they fail, they will lose all their wealth and possessions as they lose their soul. Then they have lost everything, including a place in the Kingdom.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the many blessings that you give us each and every day and we ask that you open our hearts, rich and poor alike, to belief in You by faith. For if we do and we live our lives in a way which You find pleasing, we can all join you in the Kingdom when this life is done. Then we will all be rich, spending eternity in a place so wonderful and beautiful that we can't even imagine it. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.