I am not writing to offend anyone, but just stating a fact from the Bible. Kindly take it joyfully and sportingly.
Desiring wealth and material things more than anything else, Christians have gone into error. This has mainly happened because of prosperity preachers who have emphasized much on financial and material prosperity either because they wanted to confirm that they are financially prosperous because of spiritual prosperity or they even felt convicted or guilty of their enormous wealth and wanting to feel justified speak of prosperity messages so much, that some Christians or pastors felt humiliated of not being rich.
So these immature Christians went out to gain wealth in a wrong way just to prove to fellow Christians that they too were spiritually rich. Financial prosperity does not prove your spiritual prosperity. Yes you could be wealthy because of spiritual prosperity but not the other way round. New believers have gone all out for financial prosperity before they could mature spiritually which resulted in them being drawn into greed and not being able to overcome or fight greed because of lack of spiritual growth first.
As the Bible says – Seek first the Kingdom of God and then God will add all those material wealth. This is the way Heaven functions. You don’t go for wealth, before you grow up mature in spiritual things or else you will be drawn or drown in material wealth and may also leave the Lord. Religion may teach material prosperity is the way to spiritual prosperity, but the Bible tells us that spiritual prosperity is the way to material prosperity. God does not want you to prosper materially before you mature spiritually or you will not know how to handle wealth. He does want not money or material wealth to master you, but you to master material wealth and that can happen only when you grow up spiritually first.
Preachers who are rich, preach or emphasize on material prosperity and preachers that are poor preach against material prosperity. Each one wants to justify himself that they are not looked down by others. Each one wants to prove that the other is wrong. This has brought in much criticism to the Body of Christ. People have been looking down on both kind of preachers – the Poor Christians hate the rich Christians and the rich Christians look down or criticize the poor Christians. The devil has worked much in this area and has brought great and deep divisions in the Body of Christ. The rich need to have compassion on the poor Christians and not to show off their wealth in such a way that bring stumbling block to the poor Christians. The materially poor also must not envy the rich, for Jesus said that true life doesn’t consist of the abundance of possessions. Jesus though was rich never showed off his riches, because he never wanted to hurt the poor. We must give time to the poor Christians to come up and not want them to come up before they become mature spiritually.
There is also a quality of pride in material wealth because of which many Christians who have material wealth have looked down upon those who are materially poor, though they may be spiritually rich. Some are even happy and content with whatever they have. But they are looked down by fellow Christians who are materially rich showing them that they have no faith. Though these materially rich Christians have faith in riches. Does not the Bible say – the poor are rich in faith. But today it is preached that you are poor because you have no faith. You may not know when your faith has moved you from God to material riches. So they need to check their faith. Some Christians faith is because of material riches. But when tragedy strikes them their material wealth faith will not work against spiritual tragedies. Then they will see their own downfall. They also seem to be happy and joyful not because of the inner joy Who is Christ the hope of glory, but because of material wealth. The moment the material wealth is removed from them, they may not have any happiness. Their happiness or faith is tied to the material wealth they possess.
I have seen that even baby Christians looking at the luxury of Christians and then went in for wealth before they grew faithful in their giving and growing mature spiritually. We need to bring understanding and balance within the Body of Christ concerning money and the prosperity message. Recently a great preacher with signs and wonders in his ministry has renounced the way the prosperity messages are preached. I greatly appreciate this man of God because when you have done things a certain way for almost your entire career, it can be exceedingly difficult to admit that you were wrong. This is true in any field, but it is especially true for those in the ministry. But this man of God showed an enormous amount of courage when he said that prosperity message has gone out of balance.
In addition, it is important to remember that ministries are always going to need resources in order to fulfill the Great Commission, and believers should always be supporting those ministries that are doing a great job of preaching the gospel. But the “prosperity gospel” twisted what the Bible says about giving into a message that appealed to the flesh. Many Christians who belong to the local churches have diverted their funds to big TV ministries or ministries that appeal in a larger scale and their local churches suffered with the pastor then adopting to other wrong ways to get the money. Some churches got closed down because they couldn’t afford to get their payment and their family suffered for that was their only means of financial support.
Looking at the rich prosperity messages, Christians are opting for better places better facilities, larger buildings and better comfort. So, focus has moved from inner spiritual life to outward material things. A church that has many people or a bigger building or better ambiance is considered spiritual than a church with a smaller building and lesser number of people. What matters to God is the inner spiritual life more than the outward show of things which robs Christians of the inner life. Let’s not think that bigger is spiritual and smaller is unspiritual. Material prosperity does not prove spiritual prosperity.
This is the cause or reason Christians have been discriminating pastors from pastors. They look down on pastors who have a smaller congregation and are not on TV and other larger platforms. This has brought in much pride and competition among pastors and churches. So even the pastors have felt the heat and they have started playing gimmicks by speaking against one another to draw in more people so that they are justified. Even the church members of bigger churches are proud of their church and pastor and look down on other smaller congregation and their pastors. This is not building their inner life, but they are exposing their weakness to the devil to influence their lives and when the influence works in them the devil makes them his easy target. This is what is destroying the Body of Christ.
We are not against financial or material prosperity, but preaching prosperity in a balanced way without hurting others who are not prosperous. We need to show compassion on the weaker vessels. God has accepted them as they are, so who are we to look down on them because they have Christ in them which has made the vessel of honor. We cannot dishonor a vessel that Christ has honored by His coming in them. We all have the same Christ in each of us fully and completely. Due to these kinds of wrong emphasis Christians are just giving to get, not because they love the Lord and they want to see the Kingdom of God prospering. It’s because of greed to receive or to receive more they give or they are manipulated to give, so they are not blessed. This kind of heart will bring in the devil’s influence and he can even prosper them with material wealth to rob their soul so they become useless for the Kingdom of God.
Satan even offered wealth to Jesus if he listened to him. I know there are some Christians who are giving not because they were led by Holy Spirit but because they think that if they sow to prosperous big ministries they can receive instead of sowing to the poor ministries. This is a form of greed for they sow to get, not that others may benefit or the Kingdom of God may benefit. Many times it’s the hidden agenda of the heart that no one can see only God and so He blesses accordingly.
HOLY SPIRIT: You are living in a materialistic society that has great emphasis upon luxury. The material things of life have meaning only for the physical body, and material things do not nurture the soul and spirit of a person. The problem is not about how much money a person has, but how much a person depends upon money for meaning in life. Material things cannot add any spiritual meaning to your inner life or you may not have real inner life if you are attached to material things (see Matthew 6:24). Material wealth or financial prosperity cannot or does not add any spiritual value to your inner person living in your body.
At one time Balaam may have been a true follower of Our Father and some type of a prophet. The end result for Balaam was that because he began to have more interest in money than what he should have been doing as a follower of Our Father, he ended up being a greedy person and a false prophet (see Jude 1:11). You don’t have to be rich to go to heaven, nor famous to go to heaven, neither is poverty the eligibility to go to heaven. It is by faith in God’s grace Who is Jesus that you go to heaven. Let us preach a balance message on prosperity. There is also an “anti-prosperity teaching” attitude in the church today, and yet most of the people with that attitude want to prosper. There are reasons this attitude is so prevalent. Some prosperity teachers live lifestyles that accommodate criticism. I understand that. But faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), and faith for prosperity comes by hearing teaching on prosperity. We need to know what Scripture says about prosperity.
The Lord said those who trust in Him would not lack any good thing (Ps. 34:10). Trusting in yourself or this world’s system is a recipe for disaster. It’s not in man to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). There’s a better way, and that’s God’s way. Deuteronomy 8:18 says that God is the One who gives us power to get wealth. Notice He doesn’t give us wealth directly. He gives us the power, or ability, to get wealth. This comes when we mature in faith by the knowledge of God’s Word. God is the source of your prosperity. You may have worked for this money, but remember it’s God’s grace that you are able to work to earn.
There are people who prosper without trusting God, but it usually destroys their lives (1 Tim. 6:9). They have hardship, stress, marital problems, and on and on (1 Tim. 6:10). They might be rich, but it cost them in other areas. If you prosper God’s way, the blessing of the Lord will make you rich, and no sorrow will be added to it (Prov. 10:22). I believe that the first step to prosperity is recognizing that you are a steward of God’s finances. This requires a huge mindset shift from the way the world views money. The world encourages you to be an owner and not a steward. But it’s not up to you to pick and choose what you do with your finances. God has given you finances so that you’ll trust Him with them. Then He will cause you to prosper.
Some who have preached against prosperity made Christians to believe that poverty proves piety or produces piety and that God didn’t want His people to have anything. So these too who were not financially prosperous boasted about their poverty which they meant proved piety. I have heard preachers say, “I don’t want any of this world’s goods,” because they thought there was something wrong with this world’s goods. But Psalm 50 proves why it’s not wrong to have this world’s good:
Psa 50:10 – For every beast of the forest IS MINE, and the cattle on a thousand hills ….. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for THE WORLD IS MINE, and the fullness of it (that means everything that’s in the world is mine).
So, it’s very important to keep it balanced. A happy Christian is one who is content in what he or she has. It’s greed that makes him want more. The more you have the more you want because wealth of the world has a quality of greed. A true Christian is a giver, but he is motivated by the love of Jesus instead of giving only to receive. If this is his focus his focus is on himself. You cannot love Jesus and not be a giver. Love is giving and giving is love.
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