Material wealth is often an obstacle to faith, since a rich person may trust in his money rather than in God. Jesus said: “How difficult a thing it will be for those with money to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23) Evidently, then, the riches Jesus offered his followers were not material ones.
In fact, the majority of Christians in the first century were of limited means. When a man lame from birth asked for money, Peter replied: “Silver and gold I do not possess, but what I do have is what I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!”—Acts 3:6.
The words of the disciple James also indicate that the Christian congregation was basically composed of poor people. He wrote: “Listen, my beloved brothers. God chose the ones who are poor respecting the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him, did he not?” (James 2:5) Furthermore, the apostle Paul also said that not many “wise in a fleshly way” or “powerful” or “of noble birth” were called to become part of the Christian congregation.—1 Corinthians 1:26.
If the riches that Jesus gave his followers were not material ones, what kind of riches did he give them? In a letter that Jesus sent to the congregation in Smyrna, he said: “I know your tribulation and poverty—but you are rich.” (Revelation 2:8, 9)
The Christians at Smyrna, though poor, possessed riches far more valuable than silver or gold. They were rich because of their faith and integrity to God. Faith of itself is precious because it “is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) Those not having faith are actually poor in God’s eyes.—Revelation 3:17, 18.