2001-08-13 - True Riches
Summer Questions: 8
Proverbs 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.
The Question: "Basically my husband and I are poor in earthly standards but we feel content with what we have. Lately, however, I am bothered by the teachings that I've heard from our group leader (together with my husband, I attend a Bible Study Group every Saturday evening). The emphasis that God is the God of the universe and he is rich has been given too much emphasis lately that contentment with what we have is overlooked and given less relevance. It was also emphasized that because we have a rich God we can ask him anything: a car, a house, others and he will give them to us even our wants. I argued this teachings and made our group know that we are not buying this kind of teachings. I think this is contrary to God's teachings. Tim, having a roof over our heads, food on the table, good children, being able to help financially with missions and other people in need; to me we are very blessed by God and to be told that we are not grieves my heart. Please give your insight to the teaching I have mentioned above."
The above was edited some for space, but I wanted to use this question because I think it touches on an important topic. It is common today, especially from those who have some spiritual authority, to hear the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. But I think you already know that this kind of gospel is a false gospel. The words of Agur in the above verses agree with you.
When someone tells us that our prosperity may be enhanced by following the Lord, they can find verses to back them up and to some extent this can be true. However, there is no correlation between the blessings of God and material wealth. When I read the above note I could not help but think about how blessed you are RIGHT NOW! Blessings are not experienced by things or possessions. There are many wealthy, yet unhappy people. It is true that God can bless us materially. But it is also true that not having a late model car is no indication that the Lord has not blessed us.
God is the owner of everything. We can ask Him for anything that is not prohibited in Scripture. (We would not ask God to show us the right person to commit adultery with.) Not only can we ask, but He has promised to hear us. What He has not promised is to grant all our requests. "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 1 John 5:14 Notice here that God has not simply promised to grant all our requests. Imagine what a world of confusion this would be if this were true.
Any time we fix our focus on the year of the car we are driving, or anything of that nature, we have lost proper focus. True riches are not found in bank accounts or a nice home. True riches are found in a clear conscience, peace within the family, joy in our walk with Christ and relationships with others. True riches can't be seen in things because things can't buy communion with God or happiness.
I think you are right on track with your perspective on such teaching. Not only is it unbiblical, it is also unhelpful. It is simply the wrong focus. All over the New Testament we see those who long to be with Christ in heaven and await His return. They have a heavenly mindedness, not an umbilical cord fastened to the earth. We do not ever hear about how Claudius is more blessed because of his cool new chariot. This is simply not where the focus of Scripture is and you are right to see that the fruits of the Spirit, the beatitudes, and things of this nature are of such a higher priority.
Soli Deo Gloria,