By Quaford COLEMAN
Q: I\’m a Christian teen. When I finish high school and college, I want to own a successful business and become wealthy. I hear talk about â€˜Prosperity Gospel,\’ but I am confused. Some preachers are against it and others say it\’s what God promises every believer. Who\’s right?
A: The theology of the â€˜Prosperity Gospel\’ movement has been defined as the belief that â€˜Jesus blesses believers with riches,\’ or more specifically, as the teaching that â€˜believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through a positive faith and by maintaining a positive attitude.\’ It has been a â€˜hot button\’ topic among the body of Christ for decades, but in recent years with a higher degree of intensity.
My colleague, Lee Jenkins (GT\’s Money Matters columnist), wrote an amazing article (â€œThe End of the Prosperity Gospelâ€ Mar/Apr, 2010) on the subject of â€œProsperity Gospel.â€ It was informative and accurate, although he came under attack because of itâ€”which demonstrates that the body of Christ is very much divided on this issue.
According to I Tim. 6:10, â€œThe love of money is the root of all evil.â€ Money, itself, isn\’t the problem; for instance, money doesn\’t go out and kill people; but our passion for money and for the power it offers us indicates something about our hearts. Jesus took this matter very seriously (Matthew 6:19-20); and we should as well. Each of us should always search our heart and soul to be sure that we are not caught up in a desire for wealth and prosperity to the point that we neglect God and our responsibilities to Him.
In I Tim. 6:9, the apostle warned believers to watch them- selves and be very careful, because the pursuit of wealth can become a subtle and devastating trap. The desire for riches and power can:
(a) Blind us to things that are much more valuable and important in the sight of God. Distract attention from the ultimate wealth â€“ â€˜spiritual wealth\’.
(b) Trick and trap us to such a degree that we get so entangled in the pursuit of wealth that we compromise our integrity and character.
History is filled with stories of individuals that set high goals for riches and power but aimed low at spiritual things and ended up distracted and destroyed. God never wanted prosperityâ€”power, wealth, career, a relationship, or any- thing elseâ€”to destroy us.
Many biblical passages warn us against living our lives with the principal goal of getting rich and possessing power. Yes, God desires to give His children good gifts; but gifts like a successful business, wealth, and authority should never cause us to lose sight of who we are and more importantly, Whose we are.
There\’s nothing wrong with wanting a successful (profit- able) business, a beautiful wardrobe, or a comfortable house; but ask yourself this question: Ultimately, is the profit from my successful business going to help only me, or is it also going to help others? Is it going to have a positive effect on the world?
Jesus consistently reminded his followers to â€˜…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,\’ (Matt. 6:33). â€˜For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?\’ (Matt. 16:26). It is our character that counts and brings Him the most glory!