Jesus came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). The proponents of prosperity gospel thrive on this scripture; saleable to the majority, especially those ensconced in poverty. This results in the spiritual standing of some Christians being measured by how prosperous the person would be. The poor are perceived as lacking commitment to Godliness.
The only purpose for prosperity gospel is to drive as many people away from God’s Kingdom as much as possible. This is achievable in two ways:
Firstly, the indulgence in prosperity invalidates the true gospel. After warning those teaching a different gospel, other than the one agreeing with the sound words of Jesus, Paul went on to reveal the danger:
“…….But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:3-10) ESV.
Many Christians think that Jesus’ mission was to bring comfort in this life. But, Christ brought the gospel of God’s Kingdom, which is not of this world (John 18:36). As hidden treachery, prosperity brings good feelings, tricking the gullible ones. It may be true that some prosperous people can be very generous. While true that the giving principle is a Godly attribute, true Christians are guided by God, to do His will, through the individual concerned. The giver is God, not necessarily the individual being used. Christ was very clear on the giving principle:
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4) ESV.
This is just as James also describes the same principle as being the practice of true religion:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27) ESV.
That type of giving takes away the self. It allows God to be God, in one’s life. People will praise God, instead of the giver.
But the most serious trapping, affecting prosperous people is pride, as indicated by Paul. Through one’s prosperity, it is very easy to look down upon poor people. Let alone that, generally, people attach undue respect to the benevolent ones; especially when considering filling up positions of authority.
The poor are despised and treated with scorn, regardless of spiritual gifts that God may have accorded them with. They then succumb to obscurity. Under those circumstances, the prosperous people cannot be part of God’s Kingdom, just as those succumbing also fall out. That is the goal of Satan.
True Christians submit to the Lordship of Jesus, who may intentionally lead them to the most uncomfortable conditions (John 21:18). They are called to live by the will of God, not their own will. Jesus Christ demonstrated how to remain committed under God’s will, in His three-time prayer at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).
Secondly, those unable to attract prosperity in their Christian lives may be those, basically targeted by Satan. God may have called them to participate in poverty, as part of their share in trials. They may do everything possible to attract prosperity, but without success. They may suppose that they have nothing to show that God is on their side, as compared with their prosperous counterparts. This is where the majority of them end up frustrated, as to drop out of the faith. They begin to assume that God would be unfair to them. One of the Psalmists states how he also almost fell into this type of treachery:
“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind……” (Psalm 73:1-8) ESV.
The Psalmist later realized the treachery and overcame the trial by clinging to God, instead:
“………My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalms 73:26-28) ESV.
Another reason for their failure to attract prosperity, just as well as their counterparts, is that God could be protecting them from Satan. Nevertheless, this is where the majority stumble, unlike the highlighted Psalmist, who managed to overcome, under similar circumstances.
Compare this with Jesus’ experience with the devil:
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! it is written, ’You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him [Jesus].” (Matthew 4:8-11) ESV.
God’s people are not of this world, as to live like those of this world. When prosperous, God’s people avoid taking credit. Prosperity is used for God’s glory. There is no wisdom in overly painting the prosperous people with black brush, as Jesus instructs us against judging (Matthew 7:1-5). But indeed the devil may use some people to deceive others, using the treachery of prosperity.
“He put another parable before them, saying, ‘”The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds? He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this. So the servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-31) ESV.
We should also not overlook the fact that it is possible, that among the poor, there may also be the agents of the Devil. Nevertheless, God’s Kingdom is not sustained by the material things of this world. God’s people may attract prosperity, but this should be used for God’s glory. In the same way, some God’s people may live in frugality, but that should be used for God’s glory. True Christians remain in the spirit of praising the Lord, regardless of their circumstances.
Prosperity becomes treacherous, only when used for purposes of evaluating and categorizing God’s people. There are so many methods used by Satan to deceive. The comfort displayed by most of those in prosperity, indicates that prosperity may be Satan’s prime tool to mislead people.
What did Christ mean, then, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly”? (John 10:10). Abundance in physical flesh cannot be achievable. King Solomon concluded that it can only be vanity, a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). In John 10:10 Jesus was focusing on what is achievable in the Spirit, whose package includes eternal life.
To most poor people, driving posh cars and living in expensive suburban areas implies living in abundance. But most people in those circumstances would attest to that being far from the truth. It is only those who appreciate the principle of God’s Kingdom—experiencing the abundance that Jesus was talking about—regardless of whether in prosperity or poverty.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social instability. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
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