Although God did not specifically create or destine certain people to be rich or poor, He has allowed these conditions to exist.
Ever since Adam's sin, the fallen human race has been learning the consequences of disobedience to God. This does not mean that those who are suffering most at this time are more guilty of sin than others. It just means that, after the fall, mankind lost perfect communion with God and began their downward path away from perfection. Those individuals who truly sought after God were blessed by His guidance and help, but the rest of the world were "left on their own." God wanted the human race to learn through experience that to turn away from God is to become more selfish and hard-hearted, and these sins are a cause of much of the world's grief and misery. This lesson will prepare all people for Christ's kingdom on earth. When they are resurrected, they will be ready to learn righteousness in the new age.
Being rich or poor is not an indication of God's favor or disfavor. The Apostle Paul wrote about those called of God, "Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential…. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world…" (I Corinthians 1:26-29) This also does not mean that wealthy people are never called by God, but we do remember our Lord's words: "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:23) Riches tend to make people feel self-sufficient, not needing God.
And then, many times riches are acquired by selfish, unrighteous practices. James, in his epistle, warns the rich that their wealth will not last forever (James 5:1-3). As he continues, we realize he is especially criticizing those who have become rich dishonestly. He says they have "hoarded wealth" and "failed to pay the workmen" (verse 4). Those workers were poor through no fault of their own. Even today, despite honest, hard work, some people cannot escape poverty. But the day is coming when the unrighteous rich will "weep and wail." (James 5:1)
The Bible instructs and encourages Christians, regardless of their financial situation.
- The Lord expects the rich to share with those less fortunate (Proverbs 19:17; 21:13; 22:9). We are also told, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (I Peter 4:10) This includes our time and talents.
- If we seek the Lord above all else and give Him our whole heart, He has promised to provide us with the necessities of life. (Matthew 6:31-33)
- "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content… because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)