Yesterday an article was published on TheSimpleDollar where Trent shared his opinions about the “Prosperity Gospel”. I read the article, read the comments, and had some thoughts that I wanted to write about – so here we are. In the article Trent made clear all of his misgivings with the Prosperity Gospel and at the time I read it all the commenters seemed to share the same disdain for it.
Scripturally I think it is important to start with Matthew 6:33…
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
What I get from this is that our priority and focus should be on God and His will, not on getting the things. I think it is pretty easy to argue that when our focus is on getting things or material possessions, we are in the wrong. My hunch is that it was a few preachers who got out of balance with this who have made the word “Prosperity” so taboo.
That said, there are numerous scriptures that suggest that God does want to see us blessed (or dare I say prosper?). The fact is that if you search your bible you are going to find the word Prosper used about 45 times (depending on which version you have). And I don’t recall an instance where it is used as a negative thing.
I would like to do a little Greek and Hebrew study on the word Prosper to get back to it’s original meaning – but my hunch is that it isn’t limited to finances – like so many people make it to be today. (If anyone has this info, feel free to share in the comments.)
What’s it for?
So I look at myself – I am a middle-class American who sees a lot of room to grow financially by looking at those around me. But realistically, I am filthy rich compared to the rest of the world. I don’t know why God chose for me to be born in such a prosperous nation when I could have just as easily have been a starving child in India.
But, I do see this as a special responsibility that I have been given – I feel that it is crucial that I don’t get caught up in Keeping up with the Joneses, but rather focusing on how to be the best steward of my money possible. Not only to handle it wisely and seeking to increase it, but to put it to good use by honoring God and helping people with it.
The poverty gospel
In the past I had a fear of earning a lot of money. I somehow felt a little more “holy” if I didn’t have any money. The truth is that the amount of money you earn have nothing to do with your right-standing with God. There are athiests and Christians alike who both make a ton of money and who are broke.
Before I was afraid to make much money because of this verse…
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25
Then I began to find out more about Stewardship and realized that none of my money is really mine anyway. And wouldn’t it be much better if I made a bunch of money and used it to advance God’s Kingdom rather than intentionally trying to avoid making more money? What if I could get to the point where I could give away 50% of the money I made – or what about 90%? Imagine all the churches that could be built, imagine all the missionaries I could help, imagine all the mouths that could be fed.
If I made a lot of money, but were giving away 90% of what I made would I be the same as the “rich man” that Jesus was referring to? On the other hand, what if I just happened to be in the top 1% wealthiest people in the world (check for yourself here) – even though I don’t feel that rich – does that still make me the “rich man” that Jesus was referring to?
The conclusion I came to is that I am rich whether I like or not and I feel a responsibility to never get caught up in the accumulation of things, but rather to use what God has given me to give back.
Psalm 67:7 has struck a chord in my heart…
“God blesses us, That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.”
I feel so incredibly blessed by God in many ways, but I know what it’s for.