Elder, David “Doc” Kenser, gives us a daily reflection and devotion.
You are, no doubt, somewhat familiar with the prosperity gospel that is expounded on by tele-vangelists. They offer a discipleship that is marked by health and wealth as God intends for us to be happy and whole. And, of course, if you send in a little “seed money” in faith, to their ministry, the gospel train of blessings will soon be on its way to a stop near you.
They support their teaching with passages that assure us prosperity in Christ such as “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (Jn 16:23) and “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). You see, God wants us to have an abundant life, a life marked by health and wealth, which he will give us if only we ask. Right? Wrong!
The wrong isn’t the abundant part, it is the interpretation of abundant where many go south. To think that God’s desire for his faithful is that they have all the physical and material things they want flies in the face of how he treated his most faithful.
Tell me which apostle gained wealth and had a life of more ease by following Christ? How were the faithful prophets treated? Consider what Jesus said to one who wanted to follow him, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Mt 8:20). And listen to the words of the apostle, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
The error the prosperity gospel crowd makes is assuming that their idea of abundant life is the same as God’s. But the Lord is clear in saying, “my thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isa 55:8), that his thoughts are higher above ours “than the heavens are above the earth” (v. 9). He rebuffs our idea of riches, saying “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich” (Rev 3:18).
Do you remember the materially wealthy individual came to Jesus asking what he needed to do? Listen to what Jesus told him: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). He went on to warn, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 24).
They key to understanding the “ask and receive” promise is to as for anything “in my name.” When we ask according to his will, his hope, his design for us; he will give us whatever we ask. As parents, we want to give our children whatever they ask for but will quickly say no to unhealthy requests.
God doesn’t particularly want us to be terribly invested in this world but rather in the next. It is our giving, not getting that increases our heavenly treasure. It is sacrifice, not ease and comfort that produces Christian character. Heavenly treasure and spiritual wealth is what God wants to pour out on us, not useless material and physical possessions that will simply fade away. Jus’ Say’n.