Note: This is part of our current series “Correcting our Misconceptions about Evangelism” adapted from Larry Moyer’s book 21 Things God Never Said. See also “Evangelism Misconception: God will Make us Healthy and Wealthy (Part 1)” and “Evangelism Misconception: God will Make us Healthy and Wealthy (Part 2).”
Misconception: “If you come to Me, I’ll make you both healthy and wealthy.”
Earlier this week, I discussed how the “health and wealth” gospel has taken several passages of Scripture out of context to suggest that God makes Christians healthy and wealthy. On Wednesday, I took a look at some of the passages that actually say the opposite. Today let’s continue that discussion!
Scriptures warn against craving physical prosperity.
The believer is to live a life of contentment, not covetousness. Two paragraphs, one from Proverbs and one from 1 Timothy, discuss the proper attitude.
Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me.
The writer recognizes the frailty of man and requests help in areas of his greatest weakness. One is protection from lying. The other is provision of daily bread. In asking that his daily needs be met, he is aware of the temptations of wealth and poverty. Wealth could cause him to forget God and become a “self-made: man. Poverty could cause him to forget God’s character and become a thief. He asks that he might be content with daily provision.
In 1 Timothy 6:6-10 Paul emphasized the need for contentment for would-be shepherds of the flock like Timothy:
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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.
Why contentment? Because we leave the world the same as we entered it—carrying nothing in, carrying nothing out. Paul does not berate money, but the love of money. The issue is contentment, not covetousness. We need to be satisfied with what we have, not crave more.
It isn’t wrong to desire more materially as long as we honor Him with it. It is wrong when the desire for material prosperity overrides all else.
The believer should focus on what he has in the world to come not what he has in the present world.
We should not focus on where we live now or what we are living with. Scripture focuses instead on where we will live then and who we will live with. In John 14, Christ comforted His disciples who were grieved that He was leaving them:
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1–2).
What will make heaven spectacular? We will be where Christ is. He continues in verse three:
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Heaven is paradise because Christ Himself is there. We are citizens there and “pilgrims” here (1 Peter 2:11). We are to focus on the spiritual not the material, on the things lasting, not the things temporary:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Col. 3:1–2).
We have no right to demand anything of God.
God is awesome, all powerful, and supreme. No one is above Him. Everyone answers or will answer to Him. A day is coming “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).
We deserve nothing good from His hand. His mercy protects us from what we do deserve. His grace gives us what we don’t deserve. Broken, we ought to ask, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4).
Our breath, energy, town homes, jobs, SUVs, friends, money, pastries and pasta are all tokens of His goodness. We deserve nothing. We owe Him everything. Never in Scripture does a properly-minded believer demand anything of God.
They may struggle with His ways. Habakkuk did. He questioned, “How can a just God use a wicked nation like Babylon to punish His chosen people?”
Also, some asked God to heal. Paul did. He prayed for Epaphroditus’ healing:
For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow (Phil. 2:27).
May we ask God for physical provisions? Yes, Christ encouraged it. He taught His own disciples to pray:
Give us this day our daily bread (Matt. 6:11).
However, we cannot demand anything of God. Ask, yes. Demand, no. We can expect good things of a good God. But we must not have the attitude of “telling God what He must do.” Our attitude must be that of undeserving children making requests of a kind father. Anything less disrespects His holiness. It shows a denial of our unworthiness.
Scripture never links the gospel to health or financial prosperity. One can trust Christ and be destitute financially or dying of spinal meningitis in a hospital room. As believers, our hope is not in what we have or hope to have in this life. That is, at best, uncertain (cf. 1 Tim. 6:17). Our hope is in what we are promised in the life to come.
God doesn’t promise His children health or wealth. Scripture speaks of who we are in Christ and what we can look forward to in the life to come.