God forbid that I be a proponent of poverty. I believe that will make me an ally of the devil who has destroyed countless billions of lives in human history and caused them to live below their God given potentials. At the same time, propagating and enjoying prosperity must be done with modesty and caution because there is a difference between prosperity and materialism. In this concluding article, I want us to examine the contrast between the two.Propagating prosperity as the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of the results of materialism which exalts the physical possession as the essence of life itself.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus described the thorns that choked seeds sown among them as the ‘cares of this world’ and the ‘deceitfulness of riches’. This type of deceit causes money and material things to be so esteemed in the human heart that it contests for the place of God.
Materialism is the worship of money and at times it is dressed in the garb of religion as it is perceived as proof of faith and spirituality, a sign of divine approval or evidence of God’s favor. If that is really so, why will Christ in Revelations 2 and 3, describe the poor church at Smyrna as rich and the rich one in laodecia as poor? To the church in Ephesus, he said;““I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”-Revelation 2:9 NKJV
Compare the above to what He said to the church in Laodecia;“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—”-Revelation 3:17 NKJV
The above contrast is a clear demonstration that God’s yardstick for measuring prosperity differs from the worldly. The exaltation of money and material things to the status of godliness is unscriptural and smears of deception. Today, many christians and even ministers of the gospel are depressed because of cars, buildings, jewelries, equipments and luxuries they can not yet able to afford.The second contrast is found in how materialism loves to flaunt wealth. The man gifted with resources is expected to give with liberality in Romans 12:8. The materialistic hoard what they have and enjoy to display them to spite the poor and vaunt themselves. This runs against
Paul’s admonition to Timothy.“Remind the wealthy to be rich in remarkable works of extravagant generosity, willing to share with others.”1 Timothy 6:18 TPTRather than extravagant generosity, some of today’s wealthy Christians display wealth with such obscenity that shames the poor. Paul asked the wealthy of the church at Corinth who came to communion services with abundance of food and spited those who had nothing: “What? Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”-I Corinthians 11:22 NKJV
The story of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21 was an elaboration on his response to the young man who asked him for his intervention in sharing an inheritance with his selfish brother who wanted to have it all. Jesus told him the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses (Luke 12:15). He then told of how a man’s farm yielded him an abundance of harvest and how he consequently planned to build larger storages, hoard the surplus and enjoy an early retirement. God told him “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you…’ What a replica of today’s loss of sense of purpose by the materialistic. If only we know that the purpose of prosperity is the establishment of God’s covenant according to Deuteronomy 8:18, we would commit ourselves to the gospel of Jesus, reach out to the poor and channel our finances towards God’s revealed purpose for each and every one of our lives.
The self centered life of the rich fool is reflected in the insensitivity of our political class to the plight of the common man, the rich to their employees and wealthy pastors to poor staff and membership.In conclusion, I must address the unwholesome gospel that is silent about the need for hard work, integrity, sound management of resources and persistent pursuit of excellence as secrets to lasting wealth but focuses alone on the giving of tithes and offerings. That the scriptures promise financial increase to givers according to 2 corinthians 9:6-6 and Galatians 6:6-8 among other references is beyond doubt. However, there is no exclusivity to this principle as it appears to have been presented by many teachings.
Without Tithes and offerings but with a proper practice of other principles, many people have acquired abundant wealth. Again the materialistic gospel has found comfort in few scriptures and manipulated them to extort the innocent and the naive by giving the impression giving is ALL they need to reach their financial goals. May we be delivered from this brand of Christianity and raise people on a balanced diet of the total counsel of God.
I call it a day on this subject matter for now, till I return to share my views soon on matters of doctrine relating to finances. Thank you for reading.