You can usually tell how a person thinks by the way they react to something.
For instance, many people get uncomfortable when they hear the word “prosperity” or “sex” mentioned in church. Because they don’t believe that God blesses us with either. Or they believe He shouldn’t.
After all, money is the root of all evil, right? And God teaches us to flee from lust?
But let us remember that it was God who created both money (gold, silver and precious gems) and sex, it was He who originally designed both for man’s enjoyment.
And it is when we use and enjoy both in His original design and intent that we get the greatest fulfilment and pleasure and blessings, that far surpasses what the world offers.
Don’t worry, we won’t be discussing sex here (at least, not in this post), but let us first focus our attention on uncovering the truths to some big questions on God and money:
Is money a blessing or a curse from God?
Some people think that money is a curse, and that you’ll never find lots of money in a regular and “proper” church. You hear sayings like “as poor as a church mouse” and “God doesn’t supply our wants but our needs”.
My idea of a church before I became a Christian was a small building with wooden pews and a big cross, and I would be wary of any religious organisation that was rich, thinking that they must be associated with a cult.
These concerns are understandable; we’ve all heard our fair share of stories and news reports exposing ministers and religious leaders who defrauded the people and the tax authorities. Where these reports are real, crime must be punished.
But I’ve learnt since that we must not lose faith in God simply because of the failures of man, and we must separate the cynical reasoning of man from the truth of the Man, Jesus.
Man – all and every one of us – will fail, invariably. Jesus – who is God – never fails.
When we put our trust in man, be it any religious or church leader, so much so that we associate God and the church with him or her, we will surely be disappointed.
The only way a church leader will not disappoint is if he or she continually points to the One who will never disappoint – Jesus, and keeps the people’s eyes on Jesus, the only perfect Man.
God never said money was evil. What He said, through the writing of the apostle Paul, was:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10, emphasis mine)
It is the love of money – greed – that is the root of all evil, not money itself. People don’t have to be rich to love money. And people can be rich but not be bound by a love of money.
I’ve heard it best said like this: God doesn’t have a problem with you having money. God has a problem with money having you.
Because He knows that it is the love of money that will destroy a man. It’s what causes people – be they in church or not – to fall.
But just because people have fallen into sin and crime due to the love of money, it doesn’t mean we should shy away from proclaiming the truth in God’s Word, which is that prosperity is a blessing from God.
In all the curses of the law pronounced by God, money and prosperity was never among them (Deuteronomy 28:16-68). The Bible consistently states and shows very clearly that prosperity is a blessing, and lack and poverty is a curse.
Compare these verses:
“The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (Deuteronomy 28:12, Blessings on Obedience)
“Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl…You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worms shall eat them…Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.” (Deuteronomy 28:17, 38-39, 42, Curses on Disobedience)
The saying “as poor as a church mouse” is nowhere in the Bible. In fact, God promises to bless even “the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks” – whatever animal and livestock we may have (Deuteronomy 28:4)!
And what does God promise about providing for our needs and wants? The Bible says:
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NLT, emphasis mine)
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want/I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1, KJV/NIV)
Some may argue that these refer to spiritual needs and not material riches and wants. But Jesus Himself said:
“Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles [non-Jews, referring to people of the world] seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33, emphasis mine)
And He adds:
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Our heavenly Father knows that we need more than just our spiritual needs fulfilled to overflowing, we live in a material world and we have material needs and wants too. And He not just provides these, He provides them in abundance.
We see this in the life of Abraham. God blessed Abraham in Genesis 12, and by Genesis 13 we see Abraham “very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2).
We see this in the life of Isaac. Genesis 26:12-14 says: “…and the Lord blessed him (Isaac). The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants.”
We see this in the life of Job, who Satan accused God of blessing the work of his hands, and increasing his possessions in the land (Job 1:10).
We see this in the life of King David, whose spoils from war served as the resources to build the temple (1 Chronicles 29).
We see this in the life of King Solomon, the richest man who ever lived (2 Chronicles 1:12, 9:22).
We see this in the lives of the first Christians, where “great grace was upon them all”, “nor was there anyone among them who lacked”, for the riches among them were distributed to all who had need (Acts 4:32-35).
We see prosperity in the churches that Paul wrote to, such as the churches of Philippi and Corinth which abounded in giving.
I’ve seen this firsthand in my own life, and the life of other believers. God blesses us with money by His grace, for His good pleasure and His good work.
Does God prosper us only when we obey, as prescribed under the law?
Well, that’s the difference Jesus made. Jesus obeyed and fulfilled the law fully on our behalf, that we today who believe in Him receive all the blessings promised by God, including prosperity, freely by grace, through believing in Jesus’s perfect finished work.
We don’t follow Jesus so that we can get rich. We follow Jesus because we love Him, out of the love that He first loved us with. But it doesn’t change the fact that when we follow Jesus, riches will come to us.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.