Right and wrong prosperity - Hope 103.2

Right and wrong prosperity

By David ReayTuesday 7 Oct 2014LifeWords DevotionalsCultureReading Time: 0 minutes


Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

6 Remember this-a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,

          “They share freely and give generously to the poor.

             Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way,he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

11 Yes,you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them,they will thank God. (NLT)

Lots of people reckon the church is only after their money. Sometimes their cynicism is justified. Some churches engage in high-pressure tactics to increase giving. They suggest that the more money you give to them the more money God will give to you. Some ministries regularly send out begging letters suggesting the work of God will collapse if cheques aren’t sent very soon. Some churches are right into a ‘prosperity gospel’ which teaches that material wealth is a sign of God’s favour for both individuals and churches. Only the best in material terms is good enough for God’s children.

It is easy to point the finger at such teaching and conclude it is just a toxic combination of middle-class aspirational materialism and God talk. Who wouldn’t be attracted to a message which offers eternal life and a pretty good shot at earthly affluence along the way? Such teaching is a seductive misunderstanding of texts like the one above. Paul seems to be saying that God will make us rich if only we put enough in the plate. But let’s not recruit him to our lifestyle aspirations so quickly.

For one thing,he was inviting generosity towards other poor churches,not for himself. For another thing,the whole point of the passage seems to be that if we are generous,God won’t impoverish us because of it. No point in my giving away all I have simply in order to have someone else give away all they have to me. God will guarantee that he will provide resources for us to go on being generous. He is not guaranteeing we will be rich. And certainly there is not to be generosity for the sake of getting rich. We are to give cheerfully and freely. Not because someone is pressuring us into giving out of guilt. Not because someone else is whispering or shouting to us that giving is a passport to personal wealth. These are simply types of ungodly compulsions. We give because others are in need and because in giving we reflect the character of a generous God.

Personal wealth accumulation is not the aim of the game for the follower of Jesus. All we have is a gift on loan from God. If we cling to our wealth,it will fester and will corrode us. If we are generous,it will do good to others and as a byproduct,bless us. We will in all sorts of deep,material and non-material ways,prosper. God has no ration books. He will prosper us abundantly. But let him define just what abundant prosperity is.

David Reay