Jesus says many things in Luke in regards to the rich and poor. Jesus makes it very clear that He is unimpressed by wealth. Rather, He makes a habit of condemning the wealthy and commending the poor. However, in many cases Jesus shows that it is not the rich that He condemns, but the habits of those who cling to their worldly possessions. The rich are first mentioned by Jesus in Luke 6:24, when He states that the rich will receive no blessings, because they have already received their rewards. In this passage, Jesus seems to be condemning the rich for living a carefree life of luxury. He makes it very clear that God does not approve. The next time a rich person is mentioned is when Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. A rich man has no place for his crops, so decides to build bigger barns so that he can store them all. But God hurls at him, “‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'” In this case, Jesus is criticizing the rich man for his greediness, not for the fact that he is rich. In Luke 16, Jesus tells yet another parable involving a rich man. This one, however, focuses on the diseased man named Lazarus who lies by his gate. The rich man never does anything for Lazarus, and eventually they both die. Lazarus goes to heaven, but the rich man goes to hell. When he asks Lazarus for a drink of water in Luke 16:24, Abraham gives a very striking answer: “‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.'” In Luke 18, Jesus tells the rich young man to sell all he has, and follow Jesus. In chapter 19, Zacchaeus swears to give up half of all he had, and pay four times over to whomever he had cheated.
Some of these passages seem to show that Jesus condemns all rich people; however, this isn’t necessarily the case. Instead, Jesus is condemning the actions of those rich people who keep all their wealth for themselves, refusing to help those who need it. In the parable of the rich fool, there is no sign that God disapproved of his wealth. God only grew angry when the man decided that he should build bigger barns for all of his stuff. The point of the parable is obvious: instead of hoarding treasures for himself, the man should have given away what he did not need to those who did need it. The rich man who knew Lazarus should have spent less time enjoying his riches, and more time helping the helpless man who suffered at his very doorstep. The diseased man lived and finally died of sickness right at the man’s gate, yet the rich man never lifted a hand to help him. That is the problem, Jesus seems to be saying; that far too often the rich do nothing for the poor. That is that fact that condemns them, not the fact that they are rich. Zacchaeus, for example, was very rich off of money he had made cheating from others. Yet he decided to give away half of his money, and four times over whatever he had cheated someone out of. Zacchaeus realized what Jesus was looking for- compassion and love towards the helpless. Riches are a gift from God. This means that it is the duty of those with money to help those whom God has not given that gift.
This philosophy is also seen through the passages that deal with poor people. When Jesus was in the temple in Luke 21, He saw a poor widow quietly put two small copper coins into the temple treasury. “‘That poor widow,'” He says, “‘has put in more than all the others.'” There were probably many rich people in the temple that day, putting large amounts of coin into the treasury. They had a lot of money to spare, and they probably made no secret of what they were doing, either. However, the widow, who was very poor and without any means of income, quietly gave all that she had to offer to God. To God, that act of faith was worth far more than the large donations of the boastful rich people. To Jesus, that was the whole point: Give to others what God has blessed you with, not to boast, but in order to do as He would have done.