“You know, I don’t really see what’s the big deal about prosperity teachers,” says a person concerned that Christians dogging on other professing Christians is harming the cause of Christ. “At the end of the day don’t they have a positive message? Aren’t they trying to help people to live better lives—with less pain and more comfort?”
I enquire, “So, how would you sum up their message? Would you say that they are trying to help people better their lives by giving them comfort—or ease, if you will?”
“Sure…isn’t that a loving thing to do?” He’s starting to get a bit agitated…knowing that I’m probably up to something.
I continue, “And would you say that they are trying to help people increase in riches? Is a big part of their message an attempt to help people apply biblical principles to help them expand their material wealth.”
“I would say so…again I don’t see what’s wrong with that. You aren’t suggesting that God wants everyone to live in poverty are you?” He’s raising the tone of his voice a little.
I press on, “So you would say that ‘ease and increasing in riches’ would be the way to describe a believer faithful to the message of the prosperity gospel?
I turn to Psalm 73, “Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches”.
Psalm 73 is a Psalm of Asaph. He informs his readers that he almost slipped in his faith. And it happened because he started looking at all of the wealth around him. He noticed that ungodly people were making bank, living in luxury, and not feeling a bit of struggle. Then he looked in his own empty pockets and began to wonder about the righteousness and provision of His God.
The Lord holds Asaph’s right hand and helps him see the big picture. Asaph concludes by saying,
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Those prosperity gospel teachers are tricksy. They aren’t simply preaching materialism. They aren’t ripping you off and saying, “Get your Lexus now, and burn in hell later”. Saying things like, “Your Best Life Now” means that believers need to start living out our future reward today. This means that we get God AND our Lexus, designer suits, million dollar homes, and life of ease.
They’ve missed what Asaph is saying.
Our portion isn’t God and stuff. It’s God. Asaph’s argument is that all that other stuff is the portion of the wicked. That’s all they get. That’s their lot. Yeah, believers might borrow these things. Use them–enjoy them, even. But it isn’t our portion. God is.
Asaph didn’t receive comfort by saying something like, “You mean, I get all of these riches on earth—AND GOD too?!?! Hallelujah!” No, he receives comfort because he realizes that nothing compares to God. If God is His portion He has everything that He needs. Why be bitter when you’ve got the greatest treasure?
Psalm 73 leaves me in awe. I’m in awe that God would set Himself as the portion for rebellious sinners like myself. I deserve to inherit hell—instead I get God.
I’m sorry, Mr. Prosperity Teacher, but your flimsy little Lexus and life of ease and luxury just doesn’t appeal to me. God is my portion—I don’t need your shiny junk.