EMISSARY^7 (G²)

COMMISIONED by CHRIST 4 SHARING HIS LIFE/KEEPING IT REAL ADMIST THE LIES (II Cor. 5:17-21))

PROSPERITY: A Biblical Study on what the Word says concerning RICHES (Part 2)

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 13, 2007

 

Before procedding, I’d like to suggest some websites on the issue of adressing what a Biblical look on PROSPERITY looks like. One is a series of sermons my church did way back in the day & that have really helped me regarding developing into a GODLY BIBLICAL STEWARD of MY FINANCES. Though some may not agree on EVERYTHING INHERENT (specifically, on the issue of TITHING, which I PRACTICE/ENTHUSIASTICALLY agree with though for differing reasons than most……for I’m all about PROPORTIONATE GIVING & giving SACRIFICALLY—WHICH LEVELS OUT THE PLAYING FIELD FOR EVERYONE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE—-& is also something the NT teaches….and for that matter, the NT STANDARDS ARE HIGHER rather than LOWER for Christians today so whether one gives 10% or not isn’t really as big of an issue to me as whether or not one’s giving ACCORDING TO THEIR ABILITY/WITH RIGHT MOTIVES & in a way that they’re mirroring what a GODLY STEWARD LOOKS LIKE…., ), there is plenty of worthwile things that may bless those who choose to listen ( http://www.libertychurch.org/scripture_studies/money_scriptures.pdf )

 Specifically, this link( http://www.libertychurch.org/streaming/audio/topical_series.php#top ) will take you to a audio sermon library….and the title to look for will be called “TITHING: OT Laws in the NT”, which is a topical study on the issue of money & deals with the following topics below:

Intro. To the Tithing Series – 3 Reasons Why I Personally Tithe

Intro. To the Tithing Series – 3 Reasons Why I Personally Tithe The Spiritual Warfare of Money

Equal Sacrifice In a Church

Old Testament Laws in New Testament Faith, Part 1

Old Testament Laws in New Testament Faith, Part 2

Old Testament Laws in New Testament Faith, Part 3

Old Testament Laws in New Testament Faith, Part 4

The Process of Prosperity

The Process of Prosperity, Part 2

Also, here’s some other links that I feel everyone should consider:

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=43&page=45#3 (DEALING WITH FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON WEALTH, MONEY, & GIVING)

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=28&page= (Basically,in their own words, The Generous Giving Research Library is the Web’s largest known Christian stewardship library. Arranged into six sections, it contains hundreds of articles, reports and papers that examine trends and motives in 21st-century giving.

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=506 (this one goes through nearly each book of the Bible and does EXSQUSITE analysis of every verse on the issue of MONEY/FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP)

In regards to Creflos’ statement that God desires all individuals to be rich or even other statements said by him in the past that God needs all Christians to be millionaires or to have/pursue much in material wealth to glorify Him, what then are Christians to make of situations where Jesus seemed to teach on how both having and pursuing great wealth can often be a hindrance to following Him?   

What to make of the various things He stated that seem to indicate that wealth is not necessarily an indicator of approval from God or a right realtionship with the Lord or even a reason to feel secure in one’s slavation? What to make of the many teachings He gave on the dangers of materialism (again, not talking about wealth/money in and of itself but rather of seeking it solely/moreso than the Lord and, for that matter, trying to make the pursuit of it equal with Him)?   

For example, consider Luke 12:13-21:The Parable of the Rich Fool
13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18″Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘ 20″But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21″This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” 

 It’s worth noting, by the way, that prior to this passage Jesus was discussing the issue of how costly but worth it was to follow/acknowledge Him above all and He showed the importance of avoiding the attitudes of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1-12…specifically hypocrisy–seeking respectabiliy/image/status but never dealing with sin…blatantly condoning things contrary to what God has said and trying to serve Him or appear good while having hearts far from God and blatantly ignoring the fact that sin, seeing that the Pharisees who were power-hungry and loved money like Luke 16:14 says, left undealt with rises up like yeast and will deal with you later!).     

Also, afterward Jesus discussed the importance of seeking after Him and His kingdom first rather than worrying/placing primary emphasis on the material things that those without God place their security in since the Lord takes care of the buisness (needs) of those who are about His buisness (work/will)(Luke 12:22-34) and Jesus also discussed the importance of living one’s life in light of His return, using one’s resources in service to Him always, not seeking one’s own immediate comfort at the expense of His long-range pleasure and remembering that one’s reward isn’t found necessirarly in this life (Luke 12:35-48).  Continuing, with the story of the rich fool, consider how Jesus dealt with the person coming Him believing that getting his inheritance or a sum of wealth was the only issue of real weight to be dealt with. Did Jesus ignore the fact that money was an issue?    

Did Jesus say that the brother unwilling to share his half of the inheritance was wrong or unimportant? No! Yet, although the man’s finacial state was an issue to be dealt with, how interesting is it that He did not focus soley on that as if solving was the cure! His response while not dealing directly with the issue pointed to a greater one, which was having the right mentality toward gaining great wealth. Like Jesus makes clear, of greater importance than what we have in our hands in having the hands of God in our lives…having a right relationship with Him? What was more important…this man’s financial situation being solved first or dealing with wrong motives behind his concern for it and exposing faulty mentality toward how he viewed what he had?  

 Did Jesus ever say that the good life had everything or even anything to do with being “loaded”? Did He not make clear that to plan solely for enriching oneself in this life and in materialistic terms while not seeking to enrich (prepare) oneself in matters pertaining to eternity will leave you still bankrupt in the eyes of God when He comes to “collect” on what He requires of us?  


Should we be more concerned with our own goals in life first or rather should we use our what we have been given, be it alot or a little, for His kingdom first? (to note, one does not need great wealth to be of imprtance or value in impacting many for God…it only took one boy being willing to trust Jesus and give the little loaves of bread/fish he had to Jesus, and did He not make what little than nothing into more than enough?! –John 6:1-15).    
 Is it not more important to stock up on things like feeding the homeless/clothing the naked and lifting up those in bondage to Him…acts of mercy/service not depending on wealth/ability or intelligence but on love for Him and care for your neighbor and for that matter things which He said truly touch His heart and were of eternal weight/remembrance (Matthew 25:31- 46),   Or should we seek to live by focusing on and stocking up on cars, houses, clothes in style, gadgets/widgets , pusuing image/bling and seeking to “get rich or die tryin’n”…basically having a “preoccupation with “gratifying physical and desires” instead of yielding one’s desires to Gods’ dominion, “craving and accumulting things” while never evaluating the true substance behind them, and being obsessed with one’s status or importance” rather than being moreso concerned with how to reflect God’s charachter and image like we were created to do   ….all of which are the mindset of those living for the world and not God ( 1 John 2:15-17)….a mindset opposed to Him and thus anything having to do with loving/blessing Him…something we should avoid lest one make himself an enemy to Him (James 4:4)…That is a mindset that will hinder anyone from ever loving God…..the same mindset that the devil tempted and bought Adam/Eve with (Genesis 3) and the very same mindset that he came against Jesus with, who repeatedly resisted while in the desert being tempted and troughout His entire life on Earth (ex. Matthew 4 and 16:24, Luke 22: 39-46,  Philippians 2:15 and on, etc)  

 Not to say that saving money or seeking to learn principals in managing money properly is unimportant, for the Word of God already adresses those things in abundance (Look all throughourt the book of Proverbs with all of the wis principals it gives concening handling what you have like Proverbs 10:4, 12:24 and Proverbs 12:27,  Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 13: 22 or Proverbs 21:10, for example) and that’s part of answering the call of being a good steward instead of a foolish one with God’s resources (Matthew 25:14-30)…  

How can one handle what they have to the best of their ability apart from proper/biblical training to hone that ability? However, on the other hand, if our motive is anything apart from gloryfying Jesus and managing wealth in ways pleasing to Him while doing so with hearts devoted to Him and effectively preaching the Gospel of Christ, for what gain do we do so?             

Consider Luke 16: 19-31

The Rich Man and Lazarus
19″There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22″The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25″But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27″He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29″Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

 If wealth was a necessary pre-requiset to pleasing God, then bump what Jesus said when He said this to the Pharisees( Note: According to my Life Application Study Bible, “the Pharisees considered wealth to be a proof of a persons’ righteousness…and Jesus startled them with this story where a diseased beggar is rewarded and a rich man is punished.”…how revelant is this story in light of the belief that wealth, though often a way God blesses, isn’t an automatic indicator that with our actions God is blessed). Did this man go to hell because of his wealth?    

Although Jesus made clear that that wasn’t the case, did He not clearly convey that rather he went to hell because of his heart atitude toward the Lord?    Was it not also becaus of his selfishness/greed and the way in which the blessings he possessed were managed, as seen in extreme regard for his own comfort and great lack of concern for Lazarus’s welfare and refusing to feed him or take care of him and exalting himself rather than seeking to serve?    

Whether the rich man had little or medium or a bunch, what mattered was his entire attitude toward it. How did the rich man use the amount of money he had that was given to him? Was it in investing and Using it to bless others and advance God’s Kingdom or hoarding the majority of it out of greed for himself first and giving what’s left over? (similar to what Luke 12:13-21 conveys). Although Lazarus was poor, did he not have true security with the Lord because he did not seek his own comfort or seek to receive his reward (satisfaction) in this life or this world’s terms?    What to make of Luke 18:18-30? 

 Luke 18:18-30 The Rich Ruler
18A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19″Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21″All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29″I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”If wealth was required to follow Jesus and live for Him to the fullest, why did He tell the rich young man to forsake first all he had and give to the poor? Not sayning that possessing wealth is a problem for Christians, but this young man like many others in our day was trying to pursue God and wealth simultaneously.

  Although he claimed to want to follow God and proclaimed that he’d kept all the commandments, Jesus made clear that he could’nt follow the Lord nor truly loved the Lord because Jesus’s command to sacrifice for the sake of following Him made the man sad and revealed that wealth was his idol…that is, he was willing to give up everything else but status andexhorbent riches…his wealth was what he thought made him who he was and although having wealth wasn’t inherently wrong/evil, it was wrong to want to hold onto it still if God asked of it to be given up… he highly valued/desired what he had and wanted to still try to worship Jesus as well…and that goes against the first and greatest commandment:  

  “Thou shall not have no other God’s (anything you place at the same level as the Lord or that you expend more energy/investment in than Him…anything that you’re willing to withhold at the expense of following Him, as seen in Exodus 20:3).   

 How much do we do like that man today and try to find a way to follow God and satisfy our desires as well, trying to reconcile the two and pretty much seek to give God what He wants while also satisfying what we already had in our minds to pursue..all under the pretense of following the Lord!  Although this rich young man did many other good things, could he ever hope to be a true disciple of Christ as long as pursuing and molding himself after the character/mentality of Christ did not take priority over all else?  

  Even iif he had tried to follow the Lord while pursuing/holding onto wealth at all costs and at the same time, which is really pursuing the Lord falsely since you’re either pursuing Him soley for what you can get while you follow Him or seeking Him hoping to make deals with Him as to what you’re going to hold onto and hoping that He won’t notice or challenge you to sacrifice what’s most precious to Him or not be willing to truly sell out for Him and to be satisfied with Him/His Work if He asked to be all you had, guess what…would not that desire for wealth have kept him from going the distance with Christ?  

  If wealth was the basis for following the Lord, then who’s to say that he would not turn away from the Lord or call God false in some kind of way when wealth disapeers and pressure rose up, since wealth/status/ finances and his own comfort were basis of his security rather than the Lordship/sufficient love of Christ? 

 Does the example of the rich young man mean that believers should automatically sell all that they own or that those who don’t do so are less “holy” or “spiritually mature than those who do?   By no means, for Jesus does not give (at least, from what I’ve studied thus far in the Word) that mandate and ask all believers to sell all they have even though there are some which He in His will desires to do so. In no way am I condoning hoarding/pursuing wealth,but to come against someone wealthy simply because they have it would be arrogance

. It seems as if it would be arrogant to presume that I in my poverty (middle class standard or below) automacially can be considered more righteous than someone who is wealthy and seeking to live middle class or above.    That, it seems, would be the reverse mentaliy of seeking wealth as means to godliness: that seeking poverty and despising wealth are a way to godliness and God’s standard for glorifying Him!

Like the Word says, even in giving of myself, it would mean nothing if I were doing so outside of what the Lord directed me to do (within the boundaries of the Word, of course), or if I did so to prove my own sense of worth and to boost my image of myself in the eyes of others or myself. I could do all kinds of great acts of charity/dedication in the name of the Lord and sacrificing at my own expense and it would still amount to nothing if done outside of genuine love for the Lord and my neighbor 

 1 Corinthians 13
Love


1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.  

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   

Again, does following Christ automatically mean that I should give up all that I own? No, for I called to be resposible for my needs and the needs of my family so that I won’t be a burden to the lives of others.  Still, I’d need to be willing to give up anything and everything God would ask me to do for serving Him and others. I’d need to always be willing to use money in ways that please Him the way He says He’s pleased, for in maintaining this kind of attitude I won’t be attached too much to what I have and I would’nt use the things I have selfishly.

 If the basis of my security/worth shifted ftom the Lord/His Gospel to what I possess, then I think it would be best for me to get rid of what I possess so I could maintain proper love for God and not run the risk of getting lost in materialism    

Although wealth in and of itself is not a bad thing, I do believe it carries with it the capability of killing you! Consider the splendor of King Solomon (I Kings 10:14-29).  

  Though God blessed him with wealth, Did you know that Solomon set himself up for a fall by amassing huge wealth and horses/charioits in great number. He, like many other kings after him, was actually going agaist God’s commands for a King, as see in Deuteronomy 17:14-20:

The King 14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

 

 The practical application of this law was 2-FOLD. One, the more LUXURIOUS Solomon’s court became, the more the people were TAXED. Excessive taxation created UNREST , and soon conditions became ripe for a revolution  (I Kings 12)

Secondly, The more one amassed, the easier it would be to forget God and to love your posessions at all costs. Seeing that he had everything he wanted, it became so much easier to ignore the fact that it was God &.not the stuff..that he needed in his life. This is something that even God himslf adressed to his people before entering the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 6):

He forgot God and his accumalation beyond the means God had established led his forgetting of the Lord and the allowance of pagan influences to enter his kingdom!! If that isn’t enough, this man sought to have it all, got it, and still came to the conclusion that it meant nothing apart from the Lord’s Lordship and living for His Purporses in his life:

Ecclesiastes 2 Pleasures Are Meaningless 1 I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem [a] as well—the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

Like what happened to the wisest king in history and Like Jesus made clear on various occasions, those who are rich and often have their basic needs met often become self-reliant and,”in their abundance and self-sufficiency”, they become suffificient.

 Seeing how wealth seems to represent many things like power/authority and victory, it can be extremely difficult for those who are rich to recognixze their lack and how they lack the power to redeem themselves in any knid of way.

Although praise the Lord it’s not impossible for the rich to come to/follow Jesus seeing that his offer is both to the rich and the poor alike (Luke 18:27), I believe that doesn’t erase the fact that there is still greater difficulty for them than others to still follow Him in the wealth they have. Like the old saying goes, “With More Money Comes More Problems.”

I pray I made sense in what I was trying to convey. Again, although God’s word doesn’t condemn wealth, by no means is an easy or harmeless thing to deal with.

 Even if God were to bless you with it, it would’nt solve all your problems and means very little when seeking it obsessively. As Solomon found out at the end of his life, it won’t lead to happiness or health or true security. “No matter how much you earn, trying to create happiness by accumaliting wealth will always leave you feeling as if you never have enough” and one can only find lasting satistifaction in using what you have for Him, not yourself:

 Ecclesiastes 5:10-17 10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. 15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?

17 All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.

Funny how those advocating the “propserity” message never preach from such powerful books like Eccleasties dealing with the emptiness/vanity of accumalting things and using what you have within God’s boundaries and for His pleasure.

 Notice how those who advocate that God desires riches/wealth AT ALL COSTS in ORDER TO SERVE HIM never talk about the supremacy of living in light of the Lord and how with more wealth comes things like freeloaders and thieves, sleeplessness, fear, anxiety, and the knowledge that you can’t take it with you.

 Wealth/the love of it is a messy thing. Like Jesus said, the love of wealth (desire) is one of the main things if not the main thing that He said had the power to destroy one’s love for the Lord:

 Matthew 6:24

24″No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

  

APerhaps there are some gains that can come from pursuing wealth/money, . Still, if I have to choose between pushing/pursuing riches (something like the word says I shoud’nt even want) and pursuing godliness, I think I’ll side with the latter. Although some of the benefits may be good, the costs seem to far outweigh everything else. What do ya’ll think? Comments?

  I Timothy 6:6-15

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords 

 

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