843 Acres: Does God Want You to Be Rich?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 4 (txt | aud, 4:19 min)
Rom 8 (txt | aud, 12:21 min)
Highlighted: Job 4:7-8

Prosperity: The “prosperity gospel” argues that, when Jesus talks about giving us “abundant life,” he means that God wants to bless us financially. [1] “In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said that they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31% … agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.” [2]

Suffering: If the prosperity gospel teaches that financial blessing stems from religious faithfulness, then—by extension—it teaches that financial suffering stems from religious unfaithfulness. That is, if you aren’t rich, then something must be wrong with you. This type of reasoning isn’t new. In fact, it’s the point of Job. God tells Satan that Job is “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” [3] Yet Satan balks at this: Of course, Job loves you! Look at everything you’ve given him—a good family and lots of money. [4] When Satan takes these things from Job, his friends think that he must have done something wrong to deserve it: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” [5]

Baloney: The irony, of course, is that we know Job’s suffering is not tied to his unrighteousness and, as we consider the life of Jesus, we see something very similar. Even though the Son of God was sinless, he had no place to lay his head, was not wealthy, and suffered greatly. The prosperity gospel is, as Rick Warren puts it, “baloney.” “It’s creating a false gospel,” he says. “You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty.”

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, even if we do not consciously subscribe to the prosperity gospel, we sometimes default to it. We say things like, “This must be God’s will because look how good it is or how easy it happened.” Yet often your will is hard and challenging. It calls us to take up our crosses daily. Yes, make us faithful and generous givers. But may we tie our self-worth only to Christ, who suffered and died. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Prosperity Theology is also known (or vilified) as Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, and Name It and Claim It. One of its signature verses is John 10:10 (“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”), which it claims relates to financial abundance. | [2] Jeff Chu and David Van Biema. “Does God Want You to Be Rich?” TIME. September 2006. | [3] Job 1:8 ESV | [4] See Job 1:9-11 | [5] Job 4:7-8 ESV

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