I was sickened by the results of a recent poll taken by Lifeway research concerning prosperity and God. Lifeway polled Americans with evangelical beliefs who attended Protestant churches at least once each month. The results were startling: 75% believe God wants them to prosper financially; 41 % said their churches teach the more money they give, the more they will be blessed; and 26% agreed they had to do something for God in order to receive material blessings from Him.
It made me wonder what Bible these people and churches are using? It sadly confirmed the common suspicion that people aren’t even reading their Bible’s. None of the above can be found in Scripture. Yet this is what many churches are teaching today, and worse, it’s what people are believing.
Let me state it plainly so there can be no misunderstanding: following Jesus will not lead to great wealth. It’s possible you might become wealthy while you are following Jesus but there is no cause and effect. When God blesses us with financial blessings, the expectation is it will be used to bless others (Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:48; Acts 2:45), not for us to live in luxury and store our excess for retirement (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:15-21). When it came to being wealthy, Jesus said it was easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to gain entrance to Heaven (Matthew 19:24). He encouraged a rich young person to sell all he had and give it to the poor in order to be holy (Matthew 19:16-21). More startlingly still, Jesus told His followers if they followed Him, they had to abandon everything, they would be persecuted, have no idea where they might sleep from night to night, and even lose their family because of Him (Matthew 8:19-22; Matthew 10:32-39; Luke 9:57-62; John 16:33). What kind of prosperity promises do you find in those passages?
The fact is, the so-called prosperity gospel being taught by many these days is at best untrue, and at worst a direct contradiction of the teachings of Christ. What breaks my heart is the way this false gospel is spreading to places of the world who desperately need the hope of Jesus. Instead of receiving peace passing all understanding, they are being sold a pipe dream having nothing to do with the beautiful and loving character of God. The only people getting rich from the health and wealth gospel are the ones perpetuating the lie before passing the plate to steal from those in need.
For the 75% who believe God wants them to prosper financially, what is true is God has plans to prosper you spiritually, but He never promised material wealth. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. You must choose between Him and money (Matthew 6:24). Why would He say such a thing if His plan all along was to shower you with cash? We’ve been deceived by false teachers drawing a connection between prosperity and God. It’s a lie. God wants you to love Him with all your strength, soul, and mind (Mark 12:30). He wants you to love others the same way He loves you (John 15:12). What God wants for you is that you go into all the world teaching others about Him (Matthew 28:19-20). If you find happiness or wealth along the way, make certain you use those blessings on the behalf of others. It’s what the Bible teaches and it’s all that is true when it comes to prosperity and God.