Is the prosperity gospel a promise or a snare? I believe that God blesses his children with financial prosperity. We see this in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We see this in the lives of countless men and women of God that were elevated to enjoy affluence such as David, Solomon, Esther, Ruth and so on. I am however opposed to the modern extreme we see coming from our pulpits today where the unbalanced prosperity gospel is used as a bait to bring people to Christ. The balanced gospel is sufficient in itself to win souls for Christ without the help of a false illusion that draws people to Christ because they want to become prosperous. For every example of a prosperous child of God in the Bible, there are many examples of those who God allowed to go through tremendous suffering and lack. God’s decision to introduce baby Jesus to the world in extreme lowly conditions is testament to the fact that a believer will sometimes be left to walk in abject poverty even while carrying a mighty divine purpose for mankind. Job was rich but was not only stripped of all prosperity but also suffered in sickness. The partial truth of wealth and health as a must for believers as taught by many preachers today, especially while disregarding the more important aspects of intimacy with God and the development of godly character is a trap from hell! God’s will is not always for his children to be wealthy. On the contrary, God sometimes requires that we give up wealth because it can be a stumbling block in the life of a believer. Believers who come in expecting wealth and health will likely not stay with God in the absence of wealth and health. They will end up angry and bitter with God in their wilderness seasons. Like Job’s wife, they will curse God and die in their disappointment with his failure to deliver to their expectations.
Many preachers quote 3 John 2:1-3 as evidence that God wants His children to have wealth and health. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.’The Greek word for “prosper” is ‘eudow’ meaning to be successful on your journey. It does not refer to financial prosperity as many imply. John wishes that all things will go well for Gaius. Verse 3 shows that John was specifically addressing the report from others about how Gaius was walking in the truth of the Lord. This passage is not a get rich quick tool nor a ‘name it claim it’ wand to be applied with disregard to how healthy our relationship with Christ is. It was a blessing over a believer whose emphasis was not on financial prosperity but rather on growing and walking in the truth of the word.
Prosperity gospel preachers today have conveniently ignored those parts of the Bible that also caution us about the dangers of loving riches. Although we are taught that it is a believers right to claim prosperity, we see in the case of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 that even when you have kept all of God’s commandments, prosperity can be a snare. How many are willing to give up all they have acquired materially for the sake of Christ? Rather than use our status as obedient believers to claim a right to prosperity, Matthew 19:20-24 stands as a caution that even when we think we are believers in good standing, our attachment to riches can cause us to lose the Kingdom.
“The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”. Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. With God All Things Are Possible. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, 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.”
Why are many charismatic believers so infatuated with the prosperity gospel being dished out of many pulpits today when Jesus clearly warns us about how hard it will be for a rich man to make it into heaven?
We are born to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God is seeking for true worshippers, not those who want Him for what He can give them. True worship has nothing to do with what God has done for us but rather who he is regardless of whether we walk in financial prosperity and good health. Wealth and health are simply tools sometimes given to believers by God to enable the spread of the gospel. It is entrusted to us to facilitate kingdom purpose. When we place undue emphasis on prosperity and make it the main reason why people should give their lives to Jesus, we embark on a slippery slope that will only lead to the creation of a generation of self seeking and greedy believers who are only in Church for what they can get from God. No wonder our pews are filled with many who have been saved for years but do not know Christ nor carry the anointing to chase a fly. No wonder we have believers who are continuously being taken for a ride by Pastors and Prophets who require the sewing of a seed to receive the blessings that Christ has freely given us. No wonder many are driven into abject poverty in their pursuit of prosperity by expecting that by simply shouting amen to prophetic declarations, their day of affluence will come. If we believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:23, many of us on the prosperity band wagon may just be enriching ourselves on the way to hell. The rich young man was sad when Jesus asked him to give up his riches and went away sad. He chose to leave Jesus because of riches. How many of us will give up the pursuit of prosperity to follow Jesus? Jesus tells the rich man in verse 21 to give up his riches before he can follow Him. How many preachers teach believers today that we may need to give up prosperity in order to build treasure in heaven and follow Christ? It is high time we learn to place our eyes on Jesus and He alone as our raison d’etre for being a part of His church. As we pursue Christ alone and seek first the Kingdom, all other things will be added on to us (Matthew 6:33).