by David Sisler
I am rich, therefore, I am blessed of God.
I am poor, therefore, I am cursed of God.
Two lies, each millennia old, but still being told today.
The Old Testament book of Job is one of the most amazing stories of the grace of God in the entire Bible. Because God trusted Job, because God knew that Job loved his Creator supremely, He allowed that righteous man to be tested in a fashion unlike any other man. That is, until the devil turned his attacks to God's only Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
When Job was sitting on an ash heap, scratching his infected skin with a broken piece of pottery and mourning the death of his children, his friends told him, "If you were serving God, these calamities would not have happened. God always blesses those who are in favor with him."
Today that old lie is hidden behind $2000 hand-made suits, $500 alligator shoes, and gold wrist watches. Today it's being spouted not from beside dung heaps, but from behind pulpits. And the lie smells just as bad when it's told in church as it did when it was told to Job. A discredited television preacher said, "Being poor is a sin when God promises prosperity!" Who is right? Man or God? If God is telling the truth, how can you know it, when what man says sounds so convincing, so logical?
Too much of what is called "success" in the Christian world today is simply another word for "greed." Modern prosperity teaching calls on us to love what the Master has placed on His table. The Bible calls on us to love the Master, even if the table that is set before us is like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard. Modern prosperity teaching focuses on temporary perspectives, instead of directing our attention toward an eternal outlook.
Do not misunderstand. God does promise success. He promises more than we can even imagine--and most of us have vivid imaginations when it comes to prosperity. But there is a condition! Jesus said it -- "Seek God's Kingdom first. Seek God's righteousness first. When God is properly first in your life, then all the things that you need will be given to you."
King Agur in Proverbs 30 learned to pray, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."
Why would a king pray such a prayer?
Read his answer: "Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."
Years ago we sang an hymn, one of whose lines said, "The things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." What grows dim today, in the light so much prosperity teaching, are investments that do not produce double-digit returns and stock portfolios that are not crammed with blue chip issues.
The Apostle Paul warned his young protégé, Timothy, "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."
Jesus warned His disciples not to concentrate all their efforts on trying to gain the things which perish. Many today who claim to teach in His name counsel just the opposite. Worse yet, they work the whole prosperity teaching into a get-rich-quick system. And guess who are the ones to get rich?
One leading prosperity preacher advertises a 100-fold offering. If you plant your seed (read "money") into his ministry, God will return what you give 100-fold. That ten dollar gift is multiplied 100 times and becomes $1000. The next time he comes to town, I'm going to go to his meeting and tell him, "Brother, I want to bless your ministry with one million dollars. According to your plan it works 100-fold, so make your $100,000 check out to me and God will multiply it back to you 100 times." Wanna take bets on me getting the hundred grand?
Get a good concordance and check it out--Jesus spoke more about money than He did any other subject except the good news about salvation. But He did not come to bring financial prosperity. He came to focus our attention on eternal prosperity. "Lay up treasures," Jesus directed, "but don't put them where they will rust, become corrupted, or be stolen. Instead, invest your treasure in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Whether you have great wealth or great poverty, if God's love through His only Son is not your greatest treasure, you are bankrupt, no matter how much money you have. That is the measure of real prosperity and real success.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/4/95
Copyright 1995 by David Sisler
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