There are many preachers and television evangelists in the denominational world today who assert that God doesn’t want anyone to be poor; from a monetary standpoint.
In many cases they tell their parishioners that if they would provide a large sum of money to their ministry, God would in turn bless the giver with a substantial amount of money in return.
This concept that God’s goal or will for all Christians is that they are monetarily rich is a heretical teaching and we will explore some reasons why.
Old Testament Examples of Prosperity
When we examine the old testament we can clearly see that God did promise the nation of Israel many physical and financial blessings with the condition being obedience. We must remember that the old testament experiences were mostly physical so that spiritual truths could be gleaned for the benefit of the spiritually minded. Let’s take a look at Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (KJV) as an example:
28 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments (if this condition was met) which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations (result) of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
The passage above indicates that if God’s terms were met, Israel would benefit with physical health and wealth. However, we must realize that Israel’s relationship with God in the Old Testament was much like having “training wheels”. Christ would come later to convey what God was like and deeper spiritual truths.
Christ’s Teaching on Prosperity and Wealth
When we look at Christ’s example and teaching we first must realize that he had few possessions and taught that others not be in bondage to “things”. Let’s take the example of the rich young ruler found in Matthew 19:22:
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
In the previous verses leading up to verse 22, a young man was seeking to get an answer from Christ on what he needed to do to obtain eternal life. Jesus knowing that the rich young ruler was possessed by what he owned suggested that he sell his goods to the poor. This was one task that the rich young ruler was not willing to do.
So with examples like this, why would God want more people to be possessed by things which would obscure their focus on him?
Jesus also taught that we should store up treasures in heaven not on earth Matthew 6:19-21:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
In Mark 10:25, Jesus states: “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.” This statement was also in reference to the rich young ruler and his inability to let go of his wealth to embrace the greater wealth of heavenly riches.
Finally, Jesus mentioned in Matthew 8:20 that he had nowhere to lay his head. This wasn’t a commandment necessarily for everyone else, but here was clearly someone who could have been rich if he wanted to, but chose a greater purpose.
Other New Testament examples
Despite teachings that the apostles were wealthy, there is absolutely no evidence of this. In fact, when we see a miracle that God performed through Peter in Acts chapter 3, he stated that he had neither silver nor gold to provide to the lame man that he healed:
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy in I Timothy 6:10-12 he states:
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Focus on “Bearing Fruit” For God
When we examine to parable of the talents found in Matthew 15:14-30 we are able to understand that God provides various blessings and abilities to everyone both Christian and non-Christian. This may include wealth. However, he expects those talents to be used to his glory. To whom much is given, much is required: Luke 12:48.
Galatians 5:22-23 states: “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”.