GOD WANTS YOU TO PROSPER
I’m sure you’ve come across a couple of believing folks who think that prospering in material things is not a proof of godly living. They often have a cynical disposition towards other believers who live in financial abundance.
What’s more, they attribute any indication of wealth (be it acquiring a bespoke ride or a vast piece of property) to dubious means. In their opinion, whoever must serve God and live a holy life must need endure hardship on earth. He/she must suffer lack and go through all manners of adversity. This, according to them, is the true test of a believer.
Well, here is good news: God is not interested in anyone’s poverty neither does he take joy in a fellow’s misery. Instead, a man’s lack or otherwise is a function of his will/choice.
The bible is the source of inspiration for believers and it informs our manner of thinking and conduct. Hence, when it is misinterpreted, it results in misapplication. Hence, many a heresy has been birthed because people took biblical passages out of context. Let’s take a look at a couple of scriptures many stay-away-from-riches believing folks have misconstrued.
Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch
22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
In the passage referenced, Apostle Paul tells the Christians at Antioch that “we must through much tribulations enter the kingdom of God”. Many have taken this verse out of context to imply that the only way we can make heaven is through suffering or want. On the contrary, Paul was not talking about lack of material things here. Note that he uses the word tribulation.
When properly interpreted, the word ‘tribulation’ speaks of trials and persecutions, particularly for the sake of the gospel. Just in the preceding verses, Paul himself experienced such tribulation when he was stoned almost to the point of death while preaching at Lystra. Hence, that verse is saying “in the course of preaching the gospel and living a godly life, we will encounter persecutions and maltreatments from those who do not believe.
Here is another one:
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 – 1Tim6:10.
Many have equated the statement to mean “money is the root of all evil”. Meanwhile, what it says is that the love of money is the root of all evil. What then is the love of money? It’s the inordinate desire to get wealth by all means (by hook or crook). When nothing else matters to a man but only the pursuit of money, he has the love of money. Money by itself cannot be root of all evil since the same money answereth all things. It’s the insatiable lust for it that results in evil.
The Rich Man and Lazarus: A Case Study
The advocates of the Spartan-like Christian living always like to use the account of Lazarus and the rich man as a basis for their belief. From the account, we read that Lazarus lived a miserable life but ended up in heaven while the rich man died and woke in hell. It should however be clarified that the rich man did not surface in hell because he was rich. Rather, he ended up in misery because of his uncharitable lifestyle while on earth.
On the other hand, Lazarus’ pathetic life on earth was never God’s will but his. Verse 21 of that passage tells us that he desired to be fed with crumbs – what a desire! Lazarus did not desire to be healed of his sores and neither did he desire that his story changed for the better. Instead, he desired to eat crumbs. And sure, he got what he wanted.
You won’t have it if you don’t desire it!
A man’s desire/choice is really powerful, even God respects it; for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he – Pro 23:7. God cannot help a man beyond the level of his desire. For instance, we read of the healing of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Jesus healed him based on his desires: Lord, that I might receive my sight. Yes, Lazarus was godly and all. However, he chose to remain in his sorry state. God was/is powerful enough to heal him and cause him to prosper. Nevertheless, He could not do it without his consent. If Lazarus did not desire it, God could do nothing about it. Therefore, no one should associate God with his or Lazarus’ miseries.
Lessons from Jabez
While Lazarus was content with pain and poverty, Jabez refused to settle for less. While Lazarus desired crumbs, Jabez desired much more. Consider the expression of his desire:
Oh that thou wouldest bless me and enlarger my coast and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!
Surely, God granted his request/heart desire.
Any believer who chooses to live in penury and hardship can do so as long as he keeps God out of his self-imposed misery.
Thanks for reading!