Will God Bless Me if I Give?
(and Prosperity Gospel)
Article by R. Joseph Ritter, Jr. CFP® EA
There is today a teaching in the Christian church that is leading people astray. It is known as the Prosperity Gospel, and its essential teaching is that by giving monetarily to a church, minister or ministry God will return the blessing many times over in the form of wealth.
As with many teachings that are not wholly consistent with the Bible, there is some truth to what is taught. The Bible contains many references to individuals becoming prosperous when they live in obedience to the Lord. Abraham, Joseph, Job, David and Solomon are just a few that come to mind. There are also many promises in Scripture relating to the Lord blessing us.
However, the notion that following the Lord automatically results in prosperity and riches untold is nowhere to be found in the Bible. There is no guarantee that everyone who follows the Lord will be prosperous and wealthy. This is one way in which people are being led astray by Prosperity Gospel teaching. They are attracted to the notion that they can become wealthy by following the Lord.
Another way in which Prosperity Gospel teaching leads people astray is in focusing their energy on building wealth and thirsting after money. Christian rap artist, Shai Linne, raps lyrics on the Prosperity Gospel in “Fal$e Teacher$,” and says this, “If you come to Jesus for money, then he’s not your God, money is!”
Prosperity Gospel has at its core the principle that people can be turned into givers by speaking to their greed and selfishness. “Do you want to be rich? Then give to my ministry, and God will bless you for it!” This is the mantra of the Prosperity Gospel. Its teaching does nothing more than motivate you to part with your money, and leave you with just enough kernels of truth that you think you’ve received a valuable message. However, what the teachers of Prosperity Gospel have done is motivated you to seek after money and wealth and forsake the basic teachings of the gospel, which are to love God first, love your neighbor, and love your enemies – whether or not it makes you wealthy in a material sense.
This is a third area where Prosperity Gospel teaching is leading people astray. Those who are interested in the gospel or observe from a distance what is being taught do not find lasting satisfaction or deep quenching of the thirst they have for meaning and significance. Money does not buy happiness, and being wealthy cannot be equated with satisfaction. There is so much more to life than big mansions, fast cars and fat bank accounts.
1 Timothy 6:10 is often cited when referring to the evils of wealth. However, it tends to be misquoted because it is referred to as money being the root of all evil. Let’s consider it together.
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:3-11
The Scripture says “the love of money” is the root of “all sorts of evil.” The Scripture also points out that godliness as a means to gain is a myth and not founded on sound Biblical teaching. Instead of teaching anything to do with wealth, the Scripture exhorts us to contentment.
Contentment is a difficult word because it implies acceptance of where we are in life and what we have as being all we will know. Contentment says that we will stop looking for something we cannot obtain and be happy with what we have and what the Lord has seen fit to entrust to us. Contentment puts a stop to envy and greed because it no longer looks to what someone else has for its own happiness.
Contentment is a state of mind. When we focus all our energy on what we do not have, our time and abilities are consumed and cannot be spent in other areas or on tasks that may lead to real satisfaction, meaning, significance and happiness. When we focus on what we have, accept where we are in life, and allow the Lord’s presence to infiltrate every area of our hearts, then we set the stage for the very things we so deeply want to actually come into being.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we see the Lord promise that His grace is sufficient. It is all we need. It covers all the bases. The Lord is enough.
“Enough.” At the heart of contentment is an acceptance that what the Lord has for us is enough to satisfy even our deepest longings.
Learning to trust in the Lord for what we need and to bring the satisfaction we so desperately seek is truly difficult because it means we are no longer in control of our own destiny. It means that we accept what the Lord has for us as enough.
Have you read all that the Lord owns? He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns the thousand hills. He owns the gold and silver. He owns our buildings. He owns it all. He commands an army of angels and leads a host of believers already following Him. All the world’s resources are at His disposal, and He stands ready to command them for you.
And you wonder if the Lord will be enough?
© 2015, 2018 Zacchaeus Financial Counseling, Inc.
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