Does God Want Christians To Pursue Financial Prosperity?

 

               

Perhaps one of the greatest deceptions in the Christian church today is the pursuit of financial prosperity: materialism, financial security, residual income...it comes in many different packages.  The most glaring and obvious example of this deception is seen on television where greedy men use the name of Jesus Christ, blasphemously, to fleece naive believers of their money.  These ministers, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, guarantee a “hundred-fold return” of financial blessing if only you send in a “love offering” to their ministry.  Many have gone so far as to sell little porcelain statues of Jesus with a few sheep for three easy payments.  Others merchandise prayers journals, Bibles, miniature stained glass (probably plastic) windows...the list goes on and on.  Included among these ministers are some who at one time loved God and others who have been charlatans from the beginning.  They are wickedly using the grace of God to satisfy their appetite and love for money.  Jesus will say to them one day, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

 

We are warned that, in the last days, it would be an age in which the church becomes lukewarm through the pursuit of materialism.  In this age, so-called Christians would teach that, if only you “confess” (i.e.-to say, or speak into existence) the Scriptures that promise financial wealth, that the “word” will come alive, and God will begin to bless you.  Of course, the leaders of this “faith and prosperity” message also include the necessity to “give to God” so that God can return to you “a hundred-fold blessing.”  It’s odd, however, that they always require the people who follow their teaching to give their “love offerings” to their particular ministry.  So, guess who really ends up becoming wealthy?  I’ll let you be the judge of answering that question.  Regarding this deception, let us examine the Scripture:

 

     Rev 3:14-17    "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.  'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (NAS)

 

Jesus wants His followers to be “hot.  The Greek definition of hot means, “boiling hot.”  Figuratively speaking, the of the word means “to be fervent.”  How can one truly be fervent in their love for God when they are consumed with the pursuit and desire for riches and wealth?

Notice that the reason these believers are “lukewarm” is because they “say” they are “rich” and “have become wealthy.”  These deceived believers may or may not actually be financially well off, but their heart attitude continues to confess their wealth regardless.  How many of these deluded folks have been duped, and then plunged into spiritual ruin and destruction when hard times hit, since their “confession” formula didn’t work?  It becomes very easy for them to fall away from, and to blame God for not honoring their “faith” and “confession” for financial success.  Strong’s Concordance defines the word “say” as follows:

 

     3004  lego (leg'-o);a primary verb; properly, to "lay" forth, i.e. (figuratively) relate (in words [usually of systematic or set discourse;  by implication, to mean: KJV-- ask, bid, boast, call, describe, give out, name, put forth, say (-in, on), shew, speak, tell, utter.

 

The “prosperity” movement has reached epidemic proportions because men have developed a “systematic or set discourse” of theology.  Notice the Greek word “lego.”  Remember the Lego toy set, where you would build, or erect some type of structure?  Well, this is how these phony preachers have deceived so many Christians in America.  They take their “pet” Scriptures, and use them out of their intended context, to systematically build a doctrinal discourse. The followers of this type of discourse are trained to rattle off Bible verses as support for their pursuit of materialism, without honest, thoughtful consideration of the Scriptures.

 

It must be pointed out that there are many Christians who are not involved directly with the “faith and prosperity” movement are still caught up in the pursuit of the “American Dream.”  They work 8,10,12 hours a day, (or more!) just to “get ahead.”  Their ultimate goal in life is to purchase a home, furnish it, pay it off, and somehow build a secure future for when they retire.  Others, such as pastors in the ministry, are pursuing financial gain in a completely different way, cloaking their greed in spirituality.  These pastors are controlling, demanding that the members of their church faithfully give “tithes and offerings” to the church.  Their goal is to see their membership grow, so that more funds can come in, so that the church can become bigger and bigger.  Their motive is no longer to make “disciples”, but to bring in more and more people.  Recently, I have even heard of pastors who are asking their church members to make a “covenant” with them.  This covenant includes a commitment by every person to give his or her tithes and offerings only to that particular church.  What greed!  What over-control, and lording it over the flock!  It robs the individual believer of the freedom to be led by God’s Spirit in their giving.

 

     1 Pet 5:2-3  Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (NIV)

 

     1 Tim 3:2-3  An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,  temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not addicted to wine or  pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. (NAS)

 

     Titus 1:7; 10-11  Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-- not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing   dishonest gain....For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.  They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach-- and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (NIV)

 

Being a true believer in Jesus Christ in America, and staying “hot”, instead of “lukewarm,” is probably more difficult than in third world countries where poverty is the normal way of life.  We get so attached to our “things” that we lose sight of the Great Commission, and living a life of servitude.  It becomes easier for us to criticize the poor in our country as being “welfare” bums, than to use our time, energy, and resources to reach out to them with the love of Jesus.  We must remind ourselves daily that this earth is not our eternal dwelling place, and that we are living in the end times.

 

     2 Tim 3:1-5  But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money,....lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. (NAS)

 

     James 5:1-6  Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you....It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!....You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned and put to death the righteous {man;} he does not resist you. (NAS)

 

     Matt 24:12-14  "And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.  "But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.  "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. (NAS)

 

     1 Tim 6:3-11   If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited {and} understands nothing....men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.  But godliness {actually} is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.               And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.  But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith...But flee from these things, you man of God.... (NAS)

 

When reading my opening statements, some people may feel that I am being judgmental.   Jesus warned us, however, to be aware of “false prophets” who come to us in sheep’s

 

clothing,”...but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt.7:15; 24:24; Mark 13:21-22).  Also:

 

     1 Tim 4:1  But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (NAS)

 

  From the passages of Scripture above, we can learn some valuable lessons:

 

1.      If a man does not agree with the “sound words” of Jesus Christ regarding the love of money, than that man is “conceited.”  All one has to do is turn on his/her television set, tune it in to TBN, and watch the nonsense that is preached on some of the programs, and the person doing the preaching, to see the most conceited “blow-hards” that Christianity has ever produced. I asked a Christian man once, who was enticed by the “faith and prosperity” movement,  “Do you want to get rich?”  His reply was, “Why of course, God wants me to seek His financial blessing.”  I then had him turn his Bible to 1 Tim. 6:9:

 

·        1 Tim 6:9  But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. (NAS)

 

After reading this verse, the man walked away speechless.  It is so clear; God does not want us to seek the riches of this world.  Christians who follow the ‘prosperity’ message, or who get themselves involved in Amway and other ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes so that they can have “financial security” for the future have set themselves up for a great fall.  They have already fallen into “temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  God’s word tells us to, flee from these things.”  It is such a simple command, but Satan has blinded them with the love of money.

 

2.      The love of money is the “root of all sorts of evil.”  It causes people to abuse relationships with others, to look at their friends and family as a “business opportunity” rather than a lost or hurting soul who are in need of the love of God.  The love of money plunges men into spiritual, mental, emotional, and even financial destruction.  The love of money has caused many to have “wandered away from the faith” and to lose their eternal soul.

 

3.      So is it wrong to be a wealthy Christian?  Is it wrong to have a savings account, and to diligently take careful steps to provide for one’s family and future?  These questions will be answered later, but the Scripture passage in 1 Timothy is dealing with our heart attitude.  Have we made our possessions, our cars, homes, and other things an idol in our heart?  If we only had “food and clothing” as the Scripture states, would we truly be content?  These are difficult question for the affluent American Christian to answer, especially in light of the uncertainty of our country’s financial future.  But consider the poor Chinese or Sudanese believer who lives daily with only a handful of food.  And yet, in these third world country, the Christian faith, and the unity amongst the brethren is really quite superior to our Westernized version of self-serving Christianity.  These people don’t get huffy if someone puts a dent in their new automobile, because they don’t have a car!  They have learned, as Paul did, the secret of contentment:

 

·        1 Tim 6:6   But godliness {actually} is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. (NAS)

 

·        Phil 4:11-13   Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in    

whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (NAS) 

 

4.      We have now established a direction for this study, to teach an appropriate attitude towards money and material things.  We realize that the “love of money” is speaking of more than just a desire for more green-backs.  It is an attitude that cannot be content with either poverty or prosperity.  It is an attitude that demands that one be continually pursuing, in their hearts, a means of financial security and/or well being.  Since the teachings of Jesus are mentioned as “sound words”, perhaps that would be an appropriate starting point to determine whether or not God wants a Christian to live in prosperity.

 

5.      Of course, the words of Jesus will not contradict what the entire Scripture teaches.  There are many principles taught in God’s Word concerning money, and what one’s attitude should be towards it.  An overall perspective can be seen in the following passage:

 

·        Prov 30:7-9   Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, Lest I be full and deny {Thee} and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.  (NAS)

 

6.      One can see the connection between this Proverb and the Lord’s prayer:

 

·        Matt 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread”. (NAS)

 

 

 

WHAT DOES JESUS TEACH ABOUT PROSPERITY?

 

 

Matt 6:19-34              "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.      "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about       your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more

important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  "And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (NIV)

 

Luke 12:15-28, 33-34    Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."  And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.  He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'   "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '  "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'  "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."  Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.....Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (NIV)

 

Matt 13:22   "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  (NAS)

 

Mark 4:18-19    "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  (NAS)

 

Luke 8:14   "And the {seed} which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of {this} life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  (NAS)

 

Luke 16:8-15            "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.   So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?   And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."        The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.   He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.   (NIV)

 

Mark 10:21-25   And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."  But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"  And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  (NAS)

 

Mark 12:42-44  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.  And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."   (NAS)

 

Luke 6:20-21  And turning His gaze on His disciples, He {began} to say, "Blessed {are} you {who are} poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  "Blessed {are} you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed {are} you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  (NAS)

 

Luke 14:12-14   And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you.  "But when you give a reception, invite {the} poor, {the} crippled, {the} lame, {the} blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have {the means} to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."  (NAS)

 

Luke 3:14   And {some} soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And {what about} us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse {anyone} falsely, and be content with your wages."  (NAS)

 

Luke 9:57-58              And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go."  And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air {have} nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."  (NAS)

Mark 8:35-37               "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it.  "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  (NAS)

·        Jesus had much more to say concerning money, greed, stewardship and the like.  However, we are going to analyze some key points from the passages listed, so that we can determine from our Lord’s teaching what are “sound words” (1 Tim. 6:3-11) regarding whether or not God wants Christians to prosper financially.  In reviewing each point, remember that God is always concerned with the motive of one’s heart in regards to wealth.  You can either read these points as nice information, or ask God to search your heart; to try you, and see if there be any wicked way in you (Psalms 139:23-24).

 

OBJECT LESSONS FROM JESUS’ TEACHING

 

1.   Jesus gave us a command that we were not to “store up treasures” on earth.  The Greek definition for “store up” is “to amass; reserve.”  The word “treasure” is defined as, a deposit; i.e. wealth.”  Therefore, what Jesus is saying is this: don’t amass a reserve of wealth for your security, but rather store up treasure in heaven (i.e.-souls for the kingdom of God).  Your spiritual eyesight can become clouded with darkness and deception if you put your security in the temporal, fleeting riches of this earth.  The point here isn’t whether you are actually wealthy or not, but it is more of an appeal by Jesus to examine where your heart is regarding the pursuit of materialism.  In the same context Jesus states that,”...where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  And remember the words of Jesus; Luke 16:15God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.

 

     You cannot serve two masters.  You cannot serve God while your heart and life are devoted to monetary security.  According to Jesus, if you are serving money as your master, then you “despise” God.

 

     Phil 3:7-8   But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.  (NAS)

 

     Phil 3:18-19   For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, {that they are} enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is {their} appetite, and {whose} glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.  (NAS)

 

     I Jn 2:15-17   Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and {also} its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.  (NAS)

 

     James 4:2-5   You lust and do not have; {so} you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; {so} you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend {it} on your pleasures.  You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:  "He jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us"?  (NAS)

 

     Titus 2:11-13            For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.  (NAS)

 

     1 Cor 5:9-12 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.  But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler -- not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within {the church}  (NAS)

 

     1 Tim 6:17-19   Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  {Instruct them} to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. (NAS)

 

     Heb 11:24-26             By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (NAS)

 

     Paul suffered the loss of all things in order to gain Christ.  We should not fix our minds on earthly things, which will lead to our spiritual ruin.  Rather then, we should set our minds on the things which are above, where Christ is, at the right hand of the Father.  (Read Colossians 3:1-6).

 

     Riches are uncertain.  Consider all the wealthy movie stars and professional athletes who have made millions of dollars, and then lost their entire fortune in just a few short years.  Yes, it’s true that many did not mange their finances well, leading them to bankruptcy.  If we look back in history, we see the Great Depression in the United States, where people from every financial status lost everything...savings accounts, homes, cars, businesses etc..  If history repeats itself, can you imagine the devastating nature of another Great Depression?  However, the next depression will be much worse.  Your IRA’s, retirement income, Social Security...everything you may be counting on for financial security will most likely be gone.  It is important to make this commentary to bring home the reality of what is taught in the Scriptures.  While it is true that Scripture tells us to “live sensibly,” which would include being a wise steward of your finances, Jesus doesn’t want us to rely on the “things of this world” for security.  If you rely on the “uncertainty of riches,” your perspective and focus will be drawn away from total dependence on the Lord.

 

     Some Christians have been blessed with substantial income by virtue of their abilities, an inheritance, or some means which caused them to became rich.  The clear instruction for these individuals is, “...to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. We see mentioned here what the true treasure Jesus spoke about really is; to use their wealth by generously sharing it with others more impoverished than themselves.  If a wealthy Christian maintains a lifestyle of generosity, sharing, and giving to others in need, then it is unlikely they will become covetous, blinded and deceived by the wealth that God has blessed him with.

 

2.  Jesus commands us not to worry about the essentials of life, and He gives as examples the food that we eat, and the clothing that we wear.  God knows our needs, and, therefore will meet the needs.  Our responsibility is to, “...seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,” and then He will provide all of our daily essentials.  We must learn to be “content” with our wages, even as Jesus commanded the Roman soldiers.

 

Some may ask the question at this point, “If I seek the kingdom of God first, does that then mean that I won’t have to work?  Will God miraculously provide my income?”  The answer to these questions can be found elsewhere in Scripture.  Working at a job or your own business does not violate what Jesus is saying.  The Lord’s main concern is that we, Be on guard against all kinds of greed,” because, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  When God created Adam, he commanded him to “cultivate” the ground (Gen. 2:15; 3:23).  If believers did not work, then how would they provide for their families, and minister to the physical needs of people?  There are passages in both the NT and OT which speak of the necessity for man to work:

      

     Prov 18:9   He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. (NAS)

 

     Prov 21:25-26             The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; All day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back. (NAS)

 

     Eccl 5:12   The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much. But the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.  (NAS)

 

     Eccl 5:18-19   Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun {during} the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.  Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. (NAS)

 

     Prov 6:6-11   Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, {and} gathers her provision in the harvest.  How long will you lie down, O sluggard?  When will you arise from your sleep?  “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest" -- And your poverty will come in like a vagabond, and your need like an armed man.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 13:4   The soul of the sluggard craves and {gets} nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.  (NAS)

 

     Prov 20:4    The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing. (NAS)

 

     Prov 24:30-34             I passed by the field of the sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, {and} received instruction.  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come {as} a robber, and your want like an armed man.”  (NAS)

 

     Col 3:22-23   Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who {merely} please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.    (NAS)

 

     1Thes 4:11-12   And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.  (NAS)

 

     II Th 3:7-15   For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we {kept} working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right {to this,} but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example.  For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.  For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at  all, but acting like busybodies.  Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.  And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.  And {yet} do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  (NAS)

 

     Acts 18:1-3    After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.  And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working; for by trade they were tent-makers.  (NAS)

 

     Acts 20:34-35             "You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my {own} needs and to the men who were with me.  In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner  you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  (NAS)

 

     1 Cor 4:11-12   To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure. (NAS)

 

     1Thes 2:9-10   For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, {how} working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and {so is} God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers. (NAS)

 

Indeed, it is the will of God for the believer to work.  If we don’t work, we don’t eat, it’s that simple.  But in a day and age when the economy is so uncertain, God does not want us to be anxious and worry about losing our jobs, or wondering where our next paycheck will come from.  He will meet all of our needs, but that may not include all the things of the world that we crave after.  (Read Phil. 4:18)

 

3.  As far as we know, Jesus Himself was not a man with great wealth.  He stated that He had, “...nowhere to lay His head.”  Jesus required the rich man to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Him.  Because he knew that the rich man had hoarded his wealth, and had not developed a lifestyle of giving and sharing with the impoverished, he went away from Christ grieved.  The Lord commands us to care for the poor.  He even says, “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  Furthermore, it is quite clear that the “deceitfulness of riches,” and the “desire” for things will “choke” out the word of God.  The mental and emotional security of having an over-abundance, dulls one’s spiritual senses, until they can no longer hear from God.  The indicators are that it is better for a person to be poor, than to be wealthy because with riches comes greed, and a desire for the things of the world.  If you make yourself a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God, and His love cannot abide in you.  The poor know they have need for God because they must depend upon Him to me their daily bread.

 

     A certain rich man Jesus spoke about devised a plan by which he could store up many goods for the future, thinking this would make him secure for the future.  Today, many Christians are doing the same thing essentially.  As they observe the apocalyptic events spoken of in Scripture coming to pass in this last hour, they hurriedly store up goods in the event of war, or world government, or a catastrophic event (e.g. a great earthquake).  I do not want to belittle these dear brethren, but their focus has clearly become self-centered.  Would they use their stored goods to feed the poor in the event of a disaster?  Or would they secretly hide their food and water for the sake of self preservation?  God fed Elijah with some wild ravens as His vehicle.  Jesus fed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes.  Has God changed, or is He still able to provide for His people?  (Matthew chapters 14, 15, 16; Mark chapters 6 & 8; John chapter 6; 1 Kings 17:4-6)

 

     Ps 37:23-25   The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  (KJV)

 

4.  When believers are poor, or for the most part far from being called “well off”, they develop a mutual care and concern for one another.  The early church, at least two times that we know of, had all things in “common” with each other.  People were willing to sell their property and other possessions in order that there would be nobody lacking or in need of anything!  As you read about these two events, consider in your heart if you would be willing to sell your home, property, or other possessions so that your needy brethren in Christ would be taken care of?  Hard times are coming in the near future, and these difficult question need to be answered in our hearts now, lest we experience what Annanias and Sapphira did!

 

·        Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common.

     selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (NIV)

 

·        Acts 4:32-5:14  And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one {of them} claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them.  And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.  For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles' feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.  And Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. But a certain man named Annanias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back {some} of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet.  But Peter said, "Annanias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back {some} of the price of the land?  While it remained {unsold,} did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God." And as he heard these words, Annanias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it.  And the young men arose and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.  Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?"  And she said, "Yes, that was the price."  Then Peter {said} to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out {as well}.”  And she fell immediately at his feet, and breathed her last; and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.  And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico.  But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.  And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to {their number}. (NAS)

 

5.  As with the rich young man, Annanias and Sapphira had a great estate (note-the word “property” is defined in the Greek as “a great estate”).  People with great wealth tend to be very insecure when their material riches are threatened.  The rich tend to have a very arrogant, egotistical attitude toward the poor.  Somehow they feel superior because of their financial and social status.  There is no place where this is more apparent than on Sunday morning inside of a church building.  The pastor and associate pastors sit in special seats, sometimes high on the platform overlooking the congregation.  Those who are influential and finely dressed have the front row seats each week.  It is like a giant, condescending, social club.  Then in walks somebody from off of the streets and they make him feel to embarrassed to sit up front with all the “big-guns.”  No, dear reader, it is better to be a door-keeper in the house of the Lord, than to dwell inside of these tents of wickedness!   (Psalms 84:10)

   

·        James 2:1-9   My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with {an attitude of} personal favoritism.  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among your-selves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world {to be} rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?  Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?  If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin {and} are convicted by the law as transgressors.  (NAS)

 

6.  In summarizing the overall teachings of Jesus Christ, one would have to admit that you are far better off if you are poor, than if you are rich.  The overwhelming support of the NT, and the OT, indicates that in most cases, God does not want His children to be rich and prosperous.  Riches, and the love of money choke out God’s word in a believer’s life, and get him/her involved in “all sorts of evil.”

 

 

 

SCRIPTURES REGARDING BOTH THE RICH AND POOR

 

 

Prov 14:23   In all labor there is profit, but mere talk {leads} only to poverty. (NAS)

 

Prov 21:5-6   The plans of the diligent {lead} surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty {comes} surely to poverty.  The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.  (NAS)

 

Prov 22:16    He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself ,or who gives to the rich, {will} only {come to} poverty.  (NAS)

 

Prov 23:19-21              Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.  Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, {or} with gluttonous eaters of meat;  For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe {a man} with rags. (NAS)

 

Prov 28:19-22             He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty {pursuits} will have poverty in plenty.  A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.  To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.  A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, and does not know that want will come upon him. (NAS)  

 

Prov 30:7-9   Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die:  Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, Lest I be full and deny {Thee} and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God. (NAS)

 

2 Cor 8:1-3  Now, brethren, we {wish to} make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,  that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.  For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability {they gave} of their own accord.  (NAS)

 

Rev 2:9  'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  (NAS)

Mark 10:23  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"  (NAS)

 

1 Kings 3:5-13   In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, "Ask what {you wish} me to give you."  Then Solomon said, ...."So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?"  And it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.            And God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words.  Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.  And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.”   (NAS)

 

Job 36:19   "Will your riches keep {you} from distress, or all the forces of {your} strength?”  (NAS)

 

Ps 49:5-14   Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth, and boast in the abundance of their riches?  No man can by any means redeem {his} brother, or give to God a ransom for him--

For the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease {trying} forever--  That he should live on eternally; that he should not undergo decay.  For he sees {that even} wise men die; the stupid and the senseless alike perish, and leave their wealth to others.  Their inner thought is, {that} their houses are forever, {and} their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names.  But man in {his} pomp will not endure; He is like the beasts that perish.  This is the way of those who are foolish, and of those after them who approve their words. Selah.  (NAS)

 

Ps 52:6-7   And the righteous will see and fear, and will laugh at him, {saying,}"Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, {and} was strong in his {evil} desire."  (NAS)

 

Ps 62:10   Do not trust in oppression, and do not vainly hope in robbery; if riches increase, do not set {your} heart {upon them.}  (NAS)

 

Prov 11:4   Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.  (NAS)

 

Prov 11:16-18             A gracious woman attains honor, and violent men attain riches.  The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.  The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness {gets} a true reward.  (NAS)

Prov 11:27-31   He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him.  He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the {green} leaf.  He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, and the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.  If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!  (NAS)

 

Prov 13:6-8   Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner.  There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; {another} pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.  The ransom of a man's life is his riches, but the poor hears no rebuke.  (NAS)

 

Prov 22:1-9   A {good} name is to be more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold.  The rich and the poor have a common bond, the LORD is the maker of them all.  The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.  The reward of humility {and} the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life.  Thorns {and} snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards himself will be far from them.  Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.  The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower {becomes} the lender's slave.  He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, and the rod of his fury will perish.  He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. (NAS)

 

Prov 27:24   For riches are not forever, nor does a crown {endure} to all generations. (NAS)

 

Eccl 4:8   There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a   brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches {and he never asked,} "And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?"  This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.  (NAS)

 

Eccl 5:13-15   There is a grievous evil {which} I have seen under the sun: riches being  hoarded by their owner to his hurt.  When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him.  As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.  (NAS)

 

Eccl 5:19  Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.  (NAS)

 

Eccl 6:1-2  There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men--a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires, but God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.  (NAS)

 

Song 8:7   "Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised." (NAS)

 

Jer 9:23-24   Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who  exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.  (NAS)

 

Ezek 28:4-8  "By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself, and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries.  "By your great wisdom, by your trade you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches--

Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Because you have made your heart like the heart of  God,            Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most ruthless of the nations.  And they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor.  'They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die the death of those who are slain in the heart of the seas.  (NAS)

 

Luke 16:11   So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  (NIV)

 

Rom 2:4   Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?  (NIV)

 

Rom 11:33   Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  (NIV)

 

Eph 1:7   In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.  (NIV)

 

Eph 1:18  {I pray that} the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.  (NAS)

 

Eph 2:6-8   And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly {places}   in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God.  (NAS)

 

Eph 3:8   To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.   (NAS)

 

Eph 3:16-17   That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love.  (NAS)

 James 5:1-6   Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you.  Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten.  Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against  you and will consume your flesh like fire.  It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, {and} which has been withheld by you, cries out {against you}  and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath.  You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned and put to death the righteous {man;} he does not resist you.   (NAS)

 

Rev 5:12   Saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain  to receive power   and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."  (NAS)

 

Deut 23:5-6   "Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.  "You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.” (NAS)

 

Ezra 9:10-12            "And now, our God, what shall we say after this?  For we have forsaken Thy commandments, which Thou hast commanded by Thy servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from end to end {and} with their impurity.  So now do not give your daughters to their sons nor take their daughters to your sons, and never seek their peace or their prosperity, that you may be strong and eat  the good {things} of the land and leave {it} as an inheritance to your sons forever.' (NAS)

 

Job 20:10, 18-21   "His sons favor the poor, and his hands give back his wealth.... He swallows riches, but will vomit them up; God will expel them from his belly.... He returns what he has attained and cannot swallow {it;} as to the riches of his trading, He cannot even enjoy {them.}  For he has oppressed {and} forsaken the poor; He has seized a house which he has not built...Because he knew no quiet within him He does not retain anything he desires.  Nothing remains for him to devour, therefore his prosperity does not endure.”  (NAS)

 

Job 21:13  They spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Sheol.” (NAS)

 

Job 30:15   Terrors are turned against me, they pursue my honor as the wind, and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.  (NAS)

 

Ps 37:7   Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.  (NAS)

 

Ps 73:1-18   Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!  But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  For there are no pains in their death; and their body is fat.            They are not in trouble {as other} men; nor are they plagued like mankind.  Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them.  Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of {their} heart run riot.  They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high.  They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth.  Therefore his people return to this place; and waters of abundance are drunk by them.            And they say, "How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?"  Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased {in} wealth.  Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, and washed my hands in innocence;  for I have been stricken all day long, and chastened every morning.  If I had said, "I will speak thus," behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children.  When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight,  until I came into the sanctuary of God; {then} I perceived their end.  Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction.   (NAS)

 

Ps 73:25-28   Whom have I in heaven {but Thee}  And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my  portion forever.  For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee.  But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works.   (NAS)

 

Prov 13:20-21    He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.  Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.   (NAS) 

 

Prov 13:25   The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked is in want.     (NAS)

 

Eccl 7:12-14 For wisdom is protection {just as} money is protection. But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.  Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent?  In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider-- God has made the one as well as the other so that man may not discover anything {that will be} after him.   (NAS)

 

Jer 22:21   "I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said, 'I will not listen!' This has been your practice from your youth, that you have not obeyed My voice.  (NAS)

 

Phil 4:11-12   Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  (NAS)

 


 

CONCLUSION

 

1.  Phil. 4:11-12 is an appropriate summary of the Christian’s view towards prosperity.  Although the overwhelming majority of Scripture shows that riches usually result in the spiritual ruin of a believer, yet in some circumstances there are exceptions.  How rare those exceptions are, for it is more difficult for a wealthy person to enter the kingdom of heaven, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.  Paul had learned the secret of contentment, in terms of physical belongings.  He could be content in “humble means” or in “prosperity.”

 

2.  The true riches that a believer should seek are the one’s listed in the list of Scriptures above:

 

     A good name is to be more desired than great riches (Prov. 22:1).

 

     The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord, are riches, honor and life (Prov. 22:1-9).

 

     The fruit of the righteous is eternal life; true riches are those who are wise and win souls (Prov. 11:27-31).

 

     Jesus contrasts true riches with worldly wealth; showing they are different (Luke 16:11).

 

     The riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience; the kindness of God that leads to repentance  (Ro. 2:4).

 

     The depth of the riches of wisdom as the knowledge of God (Ro. 11:33).

 

     The riches of God’s grace, which is redemption through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7).

 

     Knowing the hope of God’s calling in your life, which are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in His saints (Eph. 1:18).

 

     True riches are being seated with Christ in heavenly places, in order that in the future, He can show us the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness (Eph. 2:6-8).

 

     True riches involve being given the grace to preach to the Gentiles (i.e.-the unsaved) the unfathomable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8).

 

     The true riches of God’s glory:  to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.  Why?  In order that Christ (the Anointed One) may dwell in our hearts.  This will cause us to be rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:16-17).

3.  Monetary wealth causes ours hearts to be lifted up, so that we think we will have power like a mighty one (Ez.28:4-8).  God tells the rich man not to boast in his riches, but rather, to boast in the fact that he knows and understands God!  (Jer. 9:23-24)

 

4.  God’s love is the greatest wealth.  If someone were to offer you millions of dollars to give up God’s love, a true believer would utterly despise the offer (Song 8:7).  It is vanity to make such an offer; yet it is prevalent among men to seek riches and wealth instead of God’s love (Ecc. 6:1-2).

 

5.  Those who have been endowed with riches don’t realize that those riches are a gift from God (Ecc. 5:19).  The grievous evil is that, not only do the wealthy ignore God, but usually hoard their riches to themselves, and to their own destruction (Ecc. 5:13-15).  Naked we came into this world, and naked we will leave it.  You cannot take anything with you from all your labors after death.  Ironically, the wealthy are never satisfied with what they have, and are deprived of truly enjoying what they do own (Ecc. 4:8)  Riches, quite frankly, are not forever (Prov. 27:24).

 

6.  The rich rule over the poor.  The most obvious example of this is how most Americans are in debt to banks and other lending institutions.  Credit cards are one of the primary tools that the devil uses to make people over extend themselves financially.  And so, the Proverb becomes true, that, “...the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Prov. 22:1-9).

 

7.      There are people who pretend to be rich, but are really without anything (Prov.

13:6-8 with Rev. 3:17-18).  And then, there are some who pretend to be poor, but really have great wealth.  The ransom of a man’s life is his riches, (Prov. 13:6-8), but what will a man give in exchange for his soul (Matt. 16:24-26)?  He who  trusts in his riches will fall (Prov. 11:27-31).  Riches will not profit a man in the day of God’s wrath (Prov. 11:4).

 

8.  If a believer’s riches increase, he should not set his heart upon them (Ps. 62:10).  The one who begins to trust in the abundance of riches becomes strong in his evil desires (Ps. 52:6-7).  The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).  It is stupid and senseless to set your heart upon your wealth, and your houses, and your material goods; your pomp will not endure.  You cannot redeem yourself, or others, with your wealth, for the redemption of your soul is far more costly (Ps. 49:5-14 with Eph. 1:7).  Will your riches keep you from distress?  If you think so, just consider Job, and how he lost his wealth (Job 36:19).

 

9.  Solomon became wealthy, but not because he asked God for riches.  Rather, he asked God for discernment, and to understand justice (1 Kings 3:5-13).  We should do the same.  Afterall, are we not merely unprofitable servants of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 17:10)?  True believers will go through tribulation, and most likely, poverty.  However, the true believer has the true riches mentioned earlier (Rev. 2:9).

 

10.  Those believers who are blessed with material wealth should be generous, and continually share their wealth with those in need (1 Tim. 6:18).  This does not mean that the poor are exempt from giving also, according to their ability, and even beyond their ability at times to help others (2 Cor. 8:1-3).

 

11.  It is important to be diligent in providing the essential needs of one’s life, as well as for the needs of their family and others (Prov. 14:23; 21:5-6; 28:19-22).  Scripture teaches us that if a man does not work, he should not eat (1 Thes. 4:11; 2 Thes. 3:10-13).  There are some who are not able to work, and these should be cared for by the church.  “This is  pure and undefiled religion in the sight of {our} God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)  An evil man hastens after wealth (Prov.28:22).  We are never to oppress the poor (Prov. 22:16) while in pursuit of wealth.  Neither should we imbibe worldly mannerisms and ways of seeking prosperity (Ezra 9:10-12; Job 20:10, 18-21).

 

12.  They that spend all their time in “prosperity” will suddenly go down to Sheol {hell} without redemption (Luke 12:20-21 with Job 21:13).  Prosperity passes away like a cloud (Job 30:15).  Don’t worry or fret because of the prosperity of the wicked (Ps. 37:7).  Don’t be envious of those who have obtained material wealth (Ps. 73:1-18).  When you enter the presence of God, and seek Him first, you will understand the latter end of those who sought prosperity all of their lives; their end will be destruction (Ps. 73:18).

 

13.  A true believer will desire nothing but the Lord and His will (Ps.37:1-7).  The nearness of God will be his/her good (Ps. 73:25-28).  The righteous will be rewarded with true prosperity; contentment with God in any circumstance (Prov. 13:25).

 

14.  Wisdom is protection, just as money is protection.  But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of its possessors.  In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity and financial difficulty consider---God has made one as well as the other to see how man will respond to God’s voice (Ecc.7:12-14 with Jer.22:21).  We  close this study, though much more could be said on this topic.  One verse will help with an appropriate ending:

 

Heb 13:5-6   Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?"  (NAS)

 

 

 

 

 


 

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