For most Christians, discerning if something is “God’s will” is of utmost importance. For those of us who want to please God, we know that missing His will, or getting out of His will, or ignoring His will is a big mistake. Not in terms of punishment of course, but in terms of living a life which pleases Him and represents Him accurately. We desire to do what is right, walk in faith and be a blessing to the world around us.
For a host of historical and theological reasons, many Christians are confused at best, or down right negative and hostile towards the topic of prosperity. Hence, for some the word prosperity is the equivalent of a four letter word. It’s not to be used and certainly not to be pursued for then you will be well on the road to worldliness and probably a lover of money.
Folks it’s all in the perspective. For those of you on the negative side of the topic of prosperity, your convictions stem from training and experiences which highlight and magnify the dangers of wealth, riches, and prosperity. What you focus on expands is the rule. What you dwell on magnifies. You know what I mean right? All of us married folks know from experience that we married the love of our life – right? But along the way towards marital bliss, if you focus on your partners weaknesses or if you spend your energy trying to change those weaknesses, then your marriage is headed for divorce and discord rather than bliss.
But you say, “the Bible warns us that the love of money is the root of many evils.” Or you sight scriptures which caution or warn how riches can ruin or waylay a Christian’s effectiveness. Ok, I grant those scriptures, of which there are several, they exist. But I propose to you that in some Christian circles they are inordinately focused on in the name of discipleship, sometimes out of context (remember the whole Bible is a context), and hence, your beliefs may be blinding you to the biblical benefits of blessing and prosperity.
Solomon warned us in Ecclesiastes about extremes and being “too righteous.” I think this may be appropo for Christians who focus on the evils of money and wealth. It’s an easy trap. It can be a self-righteous and and protective trap. It may have roots in the “I don’t smoke, drink or dance, and I don’t hang around with those who do” crowd. It may be from envy or hopelessness that I can’t change my financial situation. To dismiss prosperity gives me a justification for my predicament and I have verses to support my position. Or we may be so comfortable in our middle class American prosperity and we bless God for it while condemning those who step over some proverbial line of “too much prosperity.” Folks, the poor among us need hope, not some pious platitudes from the comfortable. Some of these attitudes go way back to the middle ages concept of discipleship through the monks and the monastic lifestyle being portrayed as “spiritual,” and the way to please God is through self denial. It’s called pietism.
Last but not least, many of us boomer Christians are so tainted by failed TV evangelists of the 70’s and 80’s and so repulsed by the “prosperity gospel” extremes that I believe we’ve unwisely thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Look, famous and godly preachers have fallen into sexual sin, but I still view sex as healthy and God-given and enjoy it with my wife of 41 years. Some preachers have given up on their faith in Christ and the Bible as God’s word to man, but by the grace of God I haven’t given up or denied the faith because of some else’s backsliding.
Well, I’ve jumped of into the deep end of a topic that garners much discussion, even anger for some. When I said it’s all in the perspective I meant it. Even Jesus said when your eye is bad your whole body is full of darkness it was in the context of a man storing up his treasure “for himself.” His eye, his perspective on money was selfish and security oriented and we all received the just warning “do not store up treasures for yourselves.” Note that He didn’t say “don’t make money” or “money and wealth are evil.” Unrighteous mammon doesn’t mean money is evil. It means if you trust in money and trust in your abilities to make money then it’s unrighteous mammon for you. Money becomes a false god because your perspective and priorities reflect your trust in money, not God.
There is a Biblical process, purpose and blessing in prosperity which I’ll address in subsequent blogs. In the mean time, you may want to consider recovering the baby you through out with the bathwater!