Sunday, December 30, 2012

Riches are not a sign of God's blessing

Many preachers today claim that God wishes us to become wealthy, and that this wealth is a sign from God that we are “favored” by Him. Those who say this are not at all following the words God’s chosen, anointed Prophet, Jesus.

Because if we listen to Jesus, he speaks clearly to us about wealth. We all know the story featuring a camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle. It’s a graphic illustration of how difficult it is for a rich man to be in Heaven with God, though it’s not impossible, he says, since all things are possible with God. But when he says we should not lay up for ourselves treasures on Earth, but instead, gather Heavenly treasure, and repeatedly calls the poor “blessed,” his feelings about wealth is clear: it’s not the money we acquire, it’s the goodness in our hearts and the purity of our actions that “lay up treasure” in Heaven.

In fact, Jesus also told the Rich Man who asked what he must do to be saved (after telling him to obey the commandments) to sell his possessions. What would a well-off American family think when told they must do this to be saved? Can you imagine how insulted they would be!

Many ‘christians’ have been told by their pastors that if they think positive thoughts, have a lot of faith, and “name and claim” the material goods they desire, God will instantly give these things to them. But we are not told by Jesus to “name and claim” riches in the name of God. This is magic, not the God-centered faith Jesus preached. Instead, Jesus said we cannot serve two masters, namely, God and Money, and that we should not put our trust in riches.

Calling upon God for money, and measuring God’s “favor” and blessings by the money we acquire from God makes God into a Heavenly ATM machine, where we get whatever we wish and our desires are gratified, instantly. When Jesus says we are to “take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses,” his message negates this gross parody of God’s Kingdom.

Jesus often makes it clear that being rich and privileged isn’t something to be rewarded. He tells us not to invite the rich to dinner, but the poor, and to not guide the wealthy to the best seat in the house, but invite to poor instead.

The truth is, Jesus constantly elevates the poor, saying that the poor, not the rich, are those who are “blessed” and “favored,” and he commands us to serve and love the poor. That is how we, and they, are truly and richly blessed.

Scripture cited:

“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21

“And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:23-27

“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’” Luke 12:15

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“You cannot serve God and Mammon.” Matthew 6:24

“Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, Invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.” Luke 14:12-13

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