Are you looking for blessings from the Lord? There are many pastors who are quick to tell you how you can appropriate blessings from God. The other day I turned on the TV and there was a preacher on an infomercial asking for “seed of faith” money. If I have faith enough (according to him) and send him money God will bless me up to 100x what I send. This is often referred to as Prosperity Gospel or Word of Faith, and it is not a new theology.
Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas, who was not a true believer.
When Jacob fled his home after he took the blessing that was meant for his brother, he had a very emotional and religious experience. God appeared in a dream and made a covenant with him. It was a promise of material blessings (Gen. 28:13-14). Jacob called the place Bethel (the house of God), and proceeded to make a deal with God. The blessing part sounded very good to him! “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything He gives me.” (Gen. 28:20-22)
Does this deal have a familiar ring to it? Bless me, Lord! Prosper me in all my ways! Give me plenty to eat; clothe me well; take good care of me, Then I’ll serve you! Then I’ll pay my tithe! All Jacob can see out of it is a deal for land, food, clothes, prosperity, and success in all his ways; Jacob made it all about him. Beware a pastor or teacher who will tell you that God wants you to be rich. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4)
“Bethel” or “Word of Faith” is a popular religion of our day. Like Jacob, our covetous spirits interpret God’s promises in materialistic ways. All some can see is what they can get out of it. They are blind to the true meaning of Christ’s victory on the Cross — His power over sin! This theology has the flesh in control; it does not teach the truth of surrendering control to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; it doesn’t teach the truth about Jesus changing our character when we come to Him.
Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19) The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
So why does the Lord bestow blessings upon us? “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Cor. 9:8,11) We are blessed to bless others so that His light will shine through us in order to bring others to Christ. That brings up another question: why would He withhold blessings? “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
The Lord desires for us to look to Him and not ourselves, in order to do good works for His kingdom. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.” (Gal. 5:13-14) He wants us to follow Jesus so closely that we desire what the Holy Spirit wants: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Rom. 8:5)
He will bless us on this earth if He chooses, and if it is in keeping with His plan. “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29) As we studied yesterday, the Lord wants to change our very character to be Christ-like. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
What will our characteristics be when He has changed us? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galations 5:22-25) The more time with spend with the Lord, keeping our eyes on Jesus the perfecter of our faith, the more like Him we will become. And that is what He desires for us, not wealth for the sole sake of wealth.
- Jabbok! A Place of Total Surrender
- What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel?
- Life Application Study Bible (NIV)