That’s not an easy question to answer. The Bible criticizes the wealthy, sometimes individually, sometimes for specific behaviors, sometimes even as a group. But it also has harsh words for some of the poor, sometimes speaks well of wealthy persons, and offers promises of material blessing (i.e. wealth) under certain circumstances.

Here’s John Ruskin’s list of common characteristics of each group.

in a community regulated only by laws of supply and demand, BUT protected from open violence,

– that is, in a “community” somewhat similar to the western-style democracies of our day –

the persons who become rich are, generally speaking,

  • industrious,
  • resolute,
  • proud,
  • covetous,
  • prompt,
  • methodical,
  • sensible,
  • unimaginative,
  • insensitive,
  • and ignorant.

The persons who remain poor are

  • the entirely foolish,
  • the entirely wise,
  • the idle,
  • the reckless,
  • the humble,
  • the thoughtful,
  • the dull,
  • the imaginative,
  • the sensitive,
  • the well-informed,
  • the improvident,
  • the irregularly and impulsively wicked,
  • the clumsy knave,
  • the open thief,
  • and the entirely merciful, just, and godly person.

Hmm. What a mix. Not making it easy, is he?

[thanks to John Ruskin, in “Ad Valorem,” Unto This Last, 1862, Penguin Classics version, p212]