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Prosperity, wealth and the Gospel

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by TruelightUK, Jun 2, 2002.

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  1. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    There are some branches of the Church today which claim that if you are living right with God, you will automatically be 'blessed' materially in this life. That worldly riches are the 'birthright' of Christians, which we should be actively seeking to claim back from the 'Thief' and his followers. That poverty is a curse from which we are redeemed, so we should lack for nothing, and enjoy the very best that this world has to offer.

    Yet is this really in tune with Biblical teaching on money and the things that this world values? Isn't this actually an area fraught with potential pitfalls and dangers?

    What does the Bible (and particularly the New Testament) actually teach should be our attitude to wealth? Can true prosperity actually be measured in financial terms?

    Anthony
     
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. Othniel

    Othniel Cup Overflowing

    151
    +0
    The Bible is more than clear on the dangers of earthly wealth, and there is no Scripture which says that Christians will naturally be blessed by a superflux of material possessions. In fact, there are places which teach us to pray not to have material wealth. (Proverbs 30:7-9) Furthermore, we are constantly warned to have persicution and trouble in the world if we are living our faith. We are admonished to put our faith in God, and to treat wealth caution because sin easily entangles.

    Just check out the parable of the sower: what are the weeds that choke faith to death? They are cares and pleasures of the world, both things which wealth brings.

    This is such an obvious issue in Scripture that personally I can't believe that Christians are so igorant of the Truth behind the dangers of wealth. The only explanation is our own extreme sinfulness and greed.

    Paul says to be content in all situations. If God blesses you with wealth, it is not for you but to share with others. Even if money falls in your lap, spending it own one's own luxury and pleasure is hardly going to further the Kingdom of God...rather it is gluttonous and slothful. Did you know one child dies every second, one child which 30 bucks a month would keep alive? Thats a meal out for two, which so many rich Christians don't think twice about. Yet if all these "followers of Christ" would stop seeking the world (which John warns that if we befriend we become enemies of God) and start seeking the Kingdom, the impact of our wealth could greatly change the shape of many lives.

    We are stewards. Read the parable of the talents. Man...there is so much in the Bible on this...like I said...man...we live in one greedy culture.

    Peace to all who seek it,
    <><
     
  3. LouisBooth

    LouisBooth Well-Known Member

    +62
    Christian
    Married
    US-Libertarian
    God blesses us in terms of spiritual weath, not physical wealth.
     
  4. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    +21
    Non-Denom
    First comes the spiritual, then the natural. eg the Bible says God gives us the power (spiritual) to get wealth (physical). ie he doesnt drop dollar notes on your lap but gives you the wisdom and favour to get it thru working for it.

    We are blessed to be a blessing, and to further the kingdom work. My church is "disgustingly" blessed in financial terms, as my Pastor puts it. We've prospered by his grace as we see more and more of him. :)
     
  5. Othniel

    Othniel Cup Overflowing

    151
    +0
    "Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort." -Christ (Luke 6:24 and check out the context!)

    "You cannot serve both God and Money." Matthew 6:24

    "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." Matthew 19:24

    KEEP READING...

    "But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
    "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to be good in rich deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
    " 1 Tim 6:8-10, 17-19

    "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

    "He who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower...even while he goes about his business." James 1:9, 11d

    "Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13-14

    "Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will tesitfy against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yoruselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you." James 5:1-6

    "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

    And don't forget the parable of the talents. Do you think this is really about making money? No, it is about using what God has given you to save others! That is our calling, and that is the great hypocracy of the modern church!

    There is nothing in Scripture which says that God wants you to use your intellect and talents to make money. He wants you to serve Him! He will take care of all your needs...and yes...that means that He will drop money you truly need in you lap if you will put your faith in Him to take care of you. For, "you are worth far more than sparrows!"

    The Bible only speaks of warnings when it comes to money. It is only the greed of modern Christians that blinds them to their own wealth, and to the death and poverty which we create and maintain by our lifestyles. Just check out worldvision.org if you think that you're not rich. We are the wealthy oppressors, and it is by turning our eyes away that we condemn ourselves. God does not give us wealth to keep, but to help those in need (Eph 4:28). There is always someone to help!

    "For I was hungry and yougave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Christ, on the day of Judgment.

    Lord God, grant me the desire to see your will done! :bow:

    Peace to all who seek it,
    <><
     
  6. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    You can always count on good ole Othneil to provide the scripture. :)
     
  7. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1


    Thanks for that excellent post; trust a Scotsman to be canny about money ;)!

    While I do think we should be wary about treating money itself as 'filthy lucre' and the root of all evil, it is certainly something which can bring great temptations. In our materialistic world, it is easy to become ensnared in the love of money and what it can buy. Yet, used correctly, wisely and under God's guidance, money does bring the opportunity to do tremendous good. I do not doubt that God enables some Christians to make money, so that they can in turn bring finances into the church, give to the poor etc. etc. Yet, I suspect, there are not that many people who are stro9ng enough spiritually to cope with vast incomes without becoming distracted by all the worldly benefits it can bring to them, personally. It seems to be something of a truism that 'the more you have, the more you want' - if you are poor, you have little to lose, yet as you gain more of this worlds wealth, the more anxious you become lest 'thieves break in and steal'!

    We also, as the passage quoted from James highlights, have to be quite careful about the sources of our own prosperity - can it really be a blessing from God' if it is gained at the expense of less fortunate people - direct exploitation of our own workforce, or, more commonly, 'unethical' investment?

    As for the 'disgustingly blessed' churches of the Western world - just because God (directly or indirectly) brings you wealth, doesn't mean you have to hold on to it! Where, after all, is your true treasure situated - would you still love God if he let you go bankrupt?!?

    Elsewhere, I have several threads on the go questioning the morality of 'having two coats when your neighbour has none'. Not implying we should impose absolute poverty upon our own families out of solidarity with the starving millions in the Third World, but that we should question the non-essentials of Western lifestyles - second homes, multiple cars, expensive holidays, designer clothes... - in the light of those who have no roof over their head, food in their bellies, or clothes on their backs.

    Anthony
     
  8. Othniel

    Othniel Cup Overflowing

    151
    +0
    Amen and here here Anthony! If Christians in America would take all the money they spend eating out every month, and spend 3/4 of it on hunger relief (using the rest to supply meals at home), world hunger would be losing the battle. Bringing second cars, homes, etc into the picture really makes it stick!

    As to the unpaid workers, has anyone ever been in the back of a restaurant and seen the dishwasher work? You know how much he gets paid for the lowest job of the low so we can have our cake and eat it? Even more so, what of the food gatherers in California's central valley who live wihtout electricity or running water? And there is always the counterculture of Tiajuana which supports Holloywood with the drug trade which we pay for every time we enjoy a movie. The Bible says of dishonest men, "Do not be partners with them." (Eph 5:7) The words of Scripture hit American culture hard.

    Does this mean we should all live in monestaries and eat dirt? No! But we must be content with what we have, turning away from the godless things of this world, and striving to help those in need at all costs, not as if we are dipping into our own pockets, but because they are not our pockets at all, but the Lord's!

    "Do you love me?" "Feed my sheep. Feed my lambs." -Christ

    Peace to all who seek it,
    <><

    (Souljah: Psalm 119:105-106, and Prov. 28:26 :D )
     
  9. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    AMEN! Well said.
     
  10. VOW

    VOW Moderator

    +15
    Catholic
    Married
    To Othniel:

    I had a priest explain that this also means to TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU HAVE. We are a very disposable-mentality here in the United States. If it breaks, throw it away, buy a new one (especially if you have a new credit card to use!). This teaching begins early, in explaining to your kids, "Pick up your toys, put them away, I won't buy you a new one because you left your old one out in the rain." Learn how to mend, how to repair, how to use elbow grease! Take it EASY with the credit cards!

    And share what you have with the least of God's children.


    Peace be with you,
    ~VOW
     
  11. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    +21
    Non-Denom
    Othniel,

    What can I say, you've taken everything out of context and focused on the "love" of money, and not the fact that God prospers. IOW blinded by church tradition.

    If you really believe all that you've posted, then stop being a hypocrite, really, and go live like John the Baptist. Whatever you own now, u shld be telling yourself you could do with a lot less.

    the car or home or income or TV or clothes you have now may be modest to you, but to a farmer in India you are considered rich! so why dont you walk your talk? or do you "draw the lines" yourself?

    I hope you can see what I'm getting at. :)
     
  12. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    Vow-

    This is good advice. I was talking about this with my wife last night. In this culture, we are pressured to be consumers so much that we forget to take care of what we have already been given by the Lord. :)
     
  13. Othniel

    Othniel Cup Overflowing

    151
    +0
    VOW- I agree completely.



    IOW? Not sure what that means. Church tradition is as sinful and flawed as I am. I'm not sure how to take "It is easier for a camel..." out of context. What it says it says. The context is a rich man who couldn't let go of his possessions to follow Christ. Christ then warns us of the dangers of earthly wealth. The prayer from Proverbs 31 says it best, and there is no context to take it out of.

    I would appreciate your contextual explanations based on the Scripture surrounding the posted verses.

    Of course God prospers Christians. That does not mean we will have worldy wealth. It means we will store up treasures in heaven.

    Ouch. Is finger pointing really necessary to defend your position? You have no idea how I live.

    I am accountable to God for what He has made me steward of, the same as you. It is all His, not ours. I pray only that I may further His Kingdom with the gifts He has provided for me, I do my best to not gluttonously waste it on my own enjoyment, and praise Him for giving me the strength to turn away from love of the world, and turn to love to Him.

    Again, I would appreciate your getting to know me and my lifestyle before you acuse.

    Compared to the illegal immagrants who picked my food I am considered rich. I don't have to go to India to see poverty. I don't draw lines. God does with His Word. When God gives me a gift, like a job with an income, it is His job and His paycheck. If He requires me to have a car to keep that job and His paycheck so that I can support missionaries, share with those in need, and further seek to serve Him in ministry, then I must have a car. Do I need a BMW or Harley? No...I need a car. When He tells me to live somewhere without a car, I will, gladly. Even so, there is nothing I do without seeking Him earnestly and prayerfully asking whether or not that use of His money is wasteful, gluttonous, or for His glory. Unless you don't believe that God answers prayer, I'm not sure where you have a problem with my lifestyle or my quoting of Scripture.

    I see that rather than focus on Scripture, you have accused me of my sin, which should be evident to all because I'm a human. It seems rather fruitless.

    Meanwhile, my wife and I will continue to allow God to use us as His stewards and prayerfully restrain from the gluttonous and wholly selfish lifestyle of our country. If you wish to spend money on yourself and justify it by comparing yourself to your peers, it is you who must answer to God, not I. If you feel condemned, please know that I do not condemn you, only God can do that. All I can do is share with you His very clear Word and what it has to say about the dangers of worldly wealth.

    Peace to all who seek it,
    <><
     
  14. TruelightUK

    TruelightUK Tilter at religious windmills

    441
    +1
    Thanks to Othniel and VOW for some very sensible posts!

    I am sure all of us have room to be convicted of our shortcomings in fulfilling the Lord's commands in this, as in many, areas. Whatever we do is not 'enough' in one sense; the poor will always be with us! But I strongly resist Andrew's attempt to heap condemnation upon those who are sincerely trying to dco what is right! Remembering too, that we do also have a duty to provide for our own families - not being squeezed into this (Western) world's mould of what is 'necessary', ever craving more and never being satisfied, but ensuring that their actual needs are taken care of.

    But the truth remains: if you have the ability to meet a person's needs when they are brought to your attention and fail to do anything about it, then you are not demonstrating love. (And if you don't love you human neighbours, you have no right to claim love for God.) Nor is merely praying blessings upon him (or, by extension, preaching the Gospel to him) enough in itself - actions speak louder than words.

    I have no problem with those who claim God prospers them financially, when they live modestly and use their surplus to help others less 'blessed' than themselves - the OT example of manna gathering suggests a relevant principle. I do have big problems with those who invoke God's blessings upon themselves primarily to boost their own materialistic lifestyles, giving away what they can easily spare to salve their consciences. (The parable of the widow's mite comes to mind - giving which costs us nothing is actually worth very little in God's eyes!)

    Anthony
     
  15. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    +21
    Non-Denom
    Othniel,

    You're still on the wrong track. The moment you hear the words "prosperity" or "wealth" in a Christian context, you automatically draw out all those verses which are against worldly weatlh, men who are after money, worldy men who put their trust in money instead of God and apply it to every Christian.

    That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about how God's prospers his children and blesses them. I'm not talking about money-minded worldly men.

    Now consider this verse:

    Ge 24:1 -- And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

    The Bible clearly says that Abraham was very rich in cattle, silver and gold. - clearly material blessings.

    Now was Abraham a Godly person? Yes. Now was he rich? Yes, extremely. Now can you see that the two CAN exist together? ie godly man and wealth or Christian and wealth.

    Now the question is how? Why? That's what I'm interested in.

    So stop taking verses that condemn faith in riches and applying it to every Christian.
     
  16. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    Very well said.

    Andrew, your post came across the same way to me, even though that isn't what you meant, apparently.

    Peace. :)
     
  17. MissytheButterfly

    MissytheButterfly Back and Better than EVER!

    +5
    I think that poverty is a sad edpidemic all over the world..but just because someone is poor in worldly riches does not mean that they are not living right or living for God. Nor do I believe that all rich people are living for the devil. It depends on the person's walk with God.

    Some people are born into money, others create their own fortune, and some of us (like my husband and I) are comfortable, not poor and certainly not rich.

    I do believe that God does bless his followers but his word doesn't say, "Do my will and you will be a millionaire." I think God provides for his people and makes a way for them in whatever situation they might be in. I have heard of several people that are christians testifying to being without money or food and out of nowhere someone shows up and gives them food or some money. I believe this is nothing but the goodness of the Lord providing for his own.

    We all suffer in our lives at some point, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, or otherwise..the Lord makes a way out for us..it does not mean because we have gone through those things that we were not living according to his will..the bible speaks of believers suffering sometimes..

    Prime example..Mother Theresa was poor as dirt..she could have had money but she decided to stay in India and help the people there..and live like they did. I remember reading a story of how someone wanted to put Mother Theresa in a nice home but she refused and stated that if the living conditions were good enough for the people she was trying to help..she would live there also. I think she was a TRUE shining example of being rich in God instead of being rich in the economic sense. Being poor is not a curse, sometimes it's a choice, other times it's a situational thing.

    When the apostles were chosen by God, they weren't all rich. They left their goods and went to follow him. In fact, JESUS WAS POOR. He didn't even own his own home. So these people that say poverty is some sort of curse are being ridiculous. Yes, poverty is a sad thing, but there is no doubt one can be poor and still be living for the Lord.

    Missy
     
  18. Othniel

    Othniel Cup Overflowing

    151
    +0
    Why is quoting Scripture so upsetting to people.

    The Bible clearly warns us about wealth. It condemns those who love wealth, but as Christians we are warned to be cautious with it, becuase it is deceiving like all things of the world.

    Of course Abraham was righteous. So was Joseph of Arimathea, and many others who loved God. That's not my point. If God blesses you with wealth, He's blessed you. But God when God says He'll bless you, He does not necessarily mean with money. AND if He does give you money, its not to waste on oneself, but to help those in need. It's called compassion. And it's no where near the wrong track, friend. I am on the Way, the Truth and the Life, praise His name for it.

    Meanwhile, Amen and here here to just about every other post!

    Peace to all who seek it,
    <><
     
  19. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    +21
    Non-Denom
    quote:
    " If God blesses you with wealth, He's blessed you."

    Well, as long as you can believe this and believe that God is no respector of persons, that's good enough for me.

    quote:"He does give you money, its not to waste on oneself, but to help those in need."
    yes agreed, but makes me wonder : did Abraham need all those cattles, gold and silver, servants? why didnt he give it all away and live like John the Baptist?

    quote: "Prime example..Mother Theresa was poor as dirt..she could have had money but she decided to stay in India and help the people there..and live like they did. I remember reading a story of how someone wanted to put Mother Theresa in a nice home but she refused and stated that if the living conditions were good enough for the people she was trying to help..she would live there also."

    again, you are going by testimonies, not the word. Mother Theresa made her own choice. God was not withholding riches from her. She just didnt want it, and God respected her choice, but that dont mean every Christian must start emulating her. then you are raising her up, not Christ, who died on the cross poor that we might be made rich! so why not honour the work of Christ, instead of M Theresa? (unless you are Catholic then I can understnd why )
     
  20. LouisBooth

    LouisBooth Well-Known Member

    +62
    Christian
    Married
    US-Libertarian
    "She just didnt want it, and God respected her choice, "

    *chuckles* nooo....Mother thresa I'm sure would give away all she got, but she never really "got" a lot....

    Again, you have yet to address..Christ was poor by the standards of that day. His birth was in a stable for goodness sakes. Paul seems to make it quite clear that there are poor christians. It is because they have no faith? Doubtful. In romans he says there are poor among the saints. Its pretty clear biblically that material weath is not always how God blesses people. Most of the time it isn't for its written that it is harder for rich man to get into heaven then a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
     
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