A popular television preacher has a simple message: God wants to bless you, and the proof of His blessing is the abundance of material possessions that you own. In other words, if you are faithful, God will make you wealthy.
This idea, or variants of it, has been called the prosperity gospel: Follow God, and He will make you wealthy in worldly goods. This idea is nothing but a false theological justification for materialism, because what it’s really saying is, Do you want to be materialistic and to feel good about it? Well, we have got the “gospel” for you.
Yet connecting the gospel with guaranteed wealth is a misdirected sideshow. This belief creates dissonance with Scripture and reflects a self-centered theology that is nothing more than half-truth clothed in biblical language. At the core of this lie is the issue at the core of all sin, and that is self and the desire to please self above everything else.
The theology of the prosperity gospel teaches that, in giving to God, we gain in return a guarantee of material wealth. But this makes God a vending machine and turns our relationship with Him into nothing but a deal: I do this and You promise to do that in return. We give, not because it is the right thing to do but because of what we get in return.
That’s the prosperity gospel.
Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7. What is happening here? What principles do we see in these texts that go against this idea of the prosperity gospel? What does Paul mean when he talks about the “grace of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7, NIV)?
These people, though in “extreme poverty” (2 Cor. 8:2, NIV), were nevertheless very generous, giving even more than they could afford. Texts like these, and many others, help refute the false theology of the prosperity gospel, which teaches that if you are living right with God you will have a lot of material possessions to show for it.
|What examples can you find of those who are faithful to God but are not rich in worldly possessions, and those who are not faithful to God but who are rich in worldly possessions? What should this tell us about using wealth as an indicator of God’s blessings?|
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons