A lot of Americans are buying into what has been coined as “the prosperity gospel.” Its message goes something like this: God will be good to you, if you believe in His promises; God will make you successful, if you ask Him. It ties up the American dream with the Christian faith, and a lot of mega-churches are promoting this rags-to-riches, gospel-to-glory type of message.
It sounds like a good idea and certainly makes for great marketing, but it’s not what Christianity is all about. The promoters of the prosperity gospel’ are actually peddling a heresy. In other words, they’re twisting the truth of the gospel into something that it was never meant to become. I mean think about it: can you imagine Jesus telling the folks of His day that their debt would be taken care of, just by giving money to His Galilean ministry? Do we really think that Christ, who told the rich young man to give up all of his possessions, would preach a message saying that God would supply everything we ever wanted? If we all read the Gospels properly, we find that Jesus talks more about giving than getting.
It’s very easy to get caught up in a cycle of fulfilling our desires and meeting our wants than it is to sacrificially give and be content with what we need. The world tells us to fulfill our goals and not to deny our dreams. Jesus, on the other hand, tells us to seek God’s kingdom and find all that we need in Him. Instead of a prosperity or property gospel, Christ preaches and teaches an uncomplicated, uncompromising message about self-denial, self-sacrifice, and selflessness. The old adage of “God helps those who help themselves” was never spoken by Jesus. You won’t find it in the Bible either; it was first uttered by Benjamin Franklin.
The danger of this prosperity heresy is that we can become envious of those who succeed in life by applying this false teaching. And that in itself becomes a subtle temptation to give up on what we know to be the truth, and turn to populist teachings to fulfill our lives. If you take time to read all of Psalm 73, you will discover how one person goes through this temptation, but eventually turns away from it and seeks God’s presence instead.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, there are many who preach Your words today and use them for their own profit. Help us to discern between those who remain faithful to Your lessons for life, as opposed to those who peddle Your Gospel and Holy words for their own wealth and success. In Your Sacred Name, we pray. Amen.