Is abundant health and wealth a mark of divine favour – even a reward from God?
Is God keen to pour out material abundance on His people?
According to the Bible, riches and prosperity are not the sign of the blessing of God on an individual. However, poverty is not a blessed condition either.
The problem with a line of teaching which implies that God wants to pour out material blessings in our lives, if only we will let Him, is that it often leaves those who are suffering ill-health or financial hardship feeling as if they are unloved by God and so lacking in faith as to have doubt cast over their very salvation. It mocks Christians under persecution in many parts of the non-Western world where, truth be known, there is sometimes greater consecration, holiness and fruitfulness for the Kingdom than in the developed world. It further mocks the sufferings of the early church, the martyrs for the faith, and the apostles. Paul wrote that he and others with him were hungry, poorly clothed, homeless, reviled – the scum of the earth [1 Corinthians 4:7-13].
1 Corinthians 4:7-13
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings – and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.×
God can, and does, heal the sick. But healing is not guaranteed through super-faith or positive confession. Timothy had frequent ailments [1 Timothy 5:23].
1 Timothy 5:23
“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”×
It is a shame to present to the unbelieving world an image of a church and Christians anxious for money, possessions and status.
Are Christians today stronger in faith and more virtuous and deserving than Timothy? [Philippians 2:19-22].
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.×
Interestingly, the Bible says that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith. [James 2:5].
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?×
Health and wealth may be a blessing from God and should be gratefully received, but it is not the blessing.
It is a shame to present to the unbelieving world an image of a church and Christians anxious for money, possessions and status. Even those who know little about Jesus admire Him, perhaps not as God and Saviour, but as one given over to the sacrifice of self and to the loss of everything that the world holds dear. It is that spirit which is attractive to the person who has tasted the emptiness of all that this world has to offer.
Nowhere does the New Testament indicate that either wealth or poverty glorifies God. The Christian is exhorted to be content with whatever they have [Hebrews 13:5].
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.”×
Written with a Montblanc Etoile ballpoint pen – black resin trimmed with polished platinum plate – $3,900.00 from Wheelers of Leicestershire, England
Written with a Papermate Flexigrip ballpoint pen – $1.38 from K-Mart.×
If you could do better, financially, should you?
The Bible says work hard, use God’s gifts, be wise, be generous, share.
Cautions (from the Bible): Don’t let contentment become craving. And, ensure that those with less, and with different gifts, don’t feel unloved by God or that they lack faith. Christ died for them too.×
The love of money
Jesus said: “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt 6:24). Note: He doesn’t say, have no thought for money. There’s plenty in the Bible about being a good steward; being responsible. It’s not money; it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10).
How do you know if you love money? The Bible answers: He who loves money never has money enough (Ecc 5:10). If you are content, and have enough, you pass the test.×