Those who love Jesus want to get it right. Yet often, we’re caught up in the minutia and tend to overcomplicate things. For example: Some may ask: Is it a sin to take pride in my accomplishments? Or in my case, “Is it wrong to delight because I’m free of student loan debt and have more and more money in my bank account?”
All this boils down to just two key questions: Can I delight in my worldly blessings? and Is it OK or even desirable to be prosperous?
The answer (of course) is that it depends. There’s nothing wrong with seeking reward. Or about being happy when you get it. The Bible is full of promises about rewards, both in this life and the next. Scripture tells us to seek both heavenly and even earthly rewards. We are told to “strive for the prize,” give generously to reap generously, and to honor our mother and father, so we can live long and prosper.
Yes, the Lord delights in motivating His children. So don’t poo poo His rewards. To belittle His blessing is nothing but sin. When the King of the Universe gives you His crown, you don’t kick it in the dirt. We are meant to enjoy the good things in life. There’s no need to be ashamed of such!
So Are You Preaching a Prosperity Gospel?
Well, that depends on what you mean by prosperity. God does not give us spiritual and material blessings just so we’re fat, dumb and happy. Instead, our Lord showers us with His grace and mercy to bring us into repentance. And to glorify His holy name. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a fast car or delighting in what the Lord has delivered you from. But this is just a shadow of what the Lord is doing here.
Blessings always come with a purpose. And the purpose of God’s material gifts is always to increase our love for Jesus. And to help us grow in loving our neighbors. When the blessings do the opposite, they are no longer blessings and become idols. The Giver is always greater than His gifts. So never let these gifts get in the way of your relationship with Him. When you do, it’s time to run to Jesus and repent.
So how can we know if God’s gifts are drawing us closer to Him? Or like the bronze serpent of Moses, how can we tell if these gifts have now become stumbling blocks?
One way is to ask questions that reveal where our heart is. Our hearts are ever changing. Our loves, hates and passions can vary from day to day or even minute to minute! But it’s the pattern that matters. Are we slowly growing to be more like Jesus? Or are we slowly moving away from Him? Is our wealth making us more faithful like Abraham? Or are we becoming more rebellious like King Ahab?
Jesus Himself says: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. But He also says whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Elsewhere He says: Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
So Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. If you want worldly wealth, demonstrate that you can handle it. Take the steps to please God with whatever you’ve got. Even if all you’ve got is just a little. Yes. The poor can be stingy too. And why should you receive more, if you can’t be generous with what you already have?
The Scriptures are clear. If your blessings cause you to be more cruel, more corrupt or more unfaithful, don’t expect to hold onto them for long. God is a God of both justice and compassion. If prosperity is hurting you, then perhaps you need the blessings of more poverty! Indeed, why reward someone with wealth if it only causes them harm?
To be honest, I like my worldly comforts. And unless it becomes a stumbling block, I would like the Lord to keep blessing me with both His material and spiritual rewards. So because of this, I too need to ask myself if God’s gifts are now becoming my idols. This is something I do regularly, as worshiping idols has a way of creeping up on me!
Do God’s Material Blessings Draw You Closer to Him?
Self Assessment Questions: Ask Your Spouse or a Close Friend If They See You the Same Way You See Yourself
- Do I repent quicker than 5 years ago?
- Has my success given me a growing compassion for others?
- Do my blessings draw me closer to Jesus in awe and wonder?
- Do I treat my spouse, coworkers and family more kindly, or am I relying on my things, projects or status to have independence from them?
- Do I find myself praising Jesus more and spending more time with Him?
- In spite of all my accomplishments and rewards, do I show more and more mercy towards others, even those with less $ or who think differently than I do?
- In light of God’s two greatest commandments, do I find more ways to share my time, money, resources, skills, talents and influence? (Use my gifts to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love my neighbor like myself?)
Danger Signs I Am Loving the Gifts over the Giver (Signs of Shrinking Fruit)
- More and more, I find I’m too busy or too distracted to spend quality time with Jesus.
- For some reason, my projects and goals cause me more unrest than when I was less successful.
- People always seem to get in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish.
- For some reason I’m quicker to criticize or have contempt for those unlike me.
- People just seem to aggravate me more these days.
- For some reason, I’ve been called critical, intolerant or hard hearted by other Christians who knew me in my early years.
- Lately, I’ve been told I’m less quick to listen, faster to interrupt and quicker to become angry.
- I often have good reasons why I never need to say I’m sorry.
- People hear more about my politics than my love for Jesus. Those who vote against my candidate are stupid and evil. (and I refuse to pray for them.)
A Prayer For Prosperity
Lord Jesus, I admit I am selfish and stuck on my things more than I should be. Please Lord, help me love the things that you love, and invest my time, treasure, talents, resources and influence in the ways that most please You.
Help me seek you humbly with what to give, what to save, and what to spend. Show me how to leverage all of your gifts, so that I am pleasing in your sight. Lastly, with all that I have, give me a love for you, and a zeal to love others. Help me continue to have a grateful heart for all your blessings, large and small.
Thank you Jesus!
Don’t Believe The Hype
Spotting the lie of self reliance and what to do about it.
Why Good People Go To Hell (For Non Christians)
Explains sin and why we need forgiveness and atonement apart from our good works.
A Mess In Progress
What it means to be in the thrall of sinful addictions and yet to rest in God’s righteousness.