Christian Prosperity: Should A Christian Expect Material And Physical Help From The God He Serves?
I came across a painful post in the past few days, a post that has incited me to come up with this article. In that post, a woman poured her pain, how life had forever been hard and harsh for her yet the people she was praying for were being blessed with jobs, enough food, and money.
In her writings, she expressed that it was not a matter of being greedy for so much, but really wondered why God would not help her at least with money for rent, some food, job and some basics. She asked us to advise her on what to do.
And believe me none (among the few comments that I read) of them told her that she indeed deserved something better, at least nothing materialistic that she deserved.
According to many preachers on that post, we are in trouble the day we serve God expecting some kind of materialistic or physical help and gain from Him.
When I read through all those comments, I did something different. I said, “Yes, we are not promised to get rich when we serve Him but neither does God say that His people will be beggars”. I am here to elaborate my point.
“I have been young, and now I am old; yet have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25). Listen to the words in the devotional bible; “I was young, and now I am old, but I have never seen good people left helpless or their children begging for food”.
In the book, total prosperity, Creflo A. Dollar writes, “To think about money when you hear the word prosperity is not INCORRECT, it is just incomplete”. Actually, money and material possessions is a part of God’s favors on his people, that is what I think.
While the bible is clear that we are not to get rich in material possessions, it is clear that we shall find abundant life, life full of good things (John 10:10). It is up to you how you define good things in God's language but they are good!
Read what Pastor Dollar calls total prosperity for Christians;
"Biblical prosperity is the ability to be in control of every situation that occurs in your life (ie social, financial, physical, mental, spiritual and emotional). It is having God’s ability to meet not only your needs, but the needs of others too”. And do you want to tell me that money and other material possessions are not part of that ability to control situations?
Now, look at our golden rule of giving tithe, bring to the Lord’s house a full tenth of what you earn, and see how I will sprinkle my blessings of abundance and find your stores get small.
Actually, one great preacher says that we do not get the exact return of what we give God simply because we give him expecting no return.
So what do you mean when you counsel someone that material blessings have nothing to do with God’s favors?
I am not saying that this total prosperity or complete good life is found in money and material possessions, but I am not also preaching that these material possessions cannot be part of this success.
When God doesn't grant us material and physical wants as we present them, He usually blesses us with sufficient grace to carry us through the situations still satisfied and wholesomely catered for in Him. Yes, He gives us Himself.
Believe me, that poverty, brokenness, lack, sickness and emotional pain that torment us day and night are not part of the blessings. It can only be part of it if being in such situation still makes our hearts merry and full of faith, which is also good life (mark this).
But the woman we started with is living in hell on earth and you want to tell her that it okay? It is not okay. And since our God never fails or walks out of His promises of abundant life, then something is wrong with us or time is not yet up.
As written by C.S Lewis and expanded by John Piper in the book, Desiring God, “Our sin is not our desires, our sin is that our desire is too weak”. We may serve God expecting the physical and material help which is not all, but part of the equation of abundant life.
In this case, we are expecting less of what we really deserve and end up at the end of rope tied up in debts, poverty and nakedness.
If we had shifted our longing. if we could raise our status from demanding God to pay our rent only, stop demanding for job only, but started demanding (not demanding but asking) the whole package of abundant life, we would be in the pool of happiness and favors.
The woman needed to be told that God can bless her, not in physical and material terms, but in spiritual abudnace in the sense that presence of God becomes the availability of everything else. God can give Himself to you and having Him is having everything.
Concerning physical blessings, here is another take! How do you get to the blessings? What channels? This is where most Christians lose out. Let us look at something else that could be wrong with us, but this time physical.
We may pray for money yet do not pick it when it shows up, pray for job and yet fail to find it when it is available, pray for riches yet fail to find them when God provides. We need to pray that God gives us the spiritual eyes to see how blessed and wealthy we could be even when nothing physical could be available.
For the case of that woman, it is possible she had spend all her time in church, praying and singing, walking door to door preaching the gospel (Monday to Sunday)-without encountering the real satisfaction and richness in such services. And thus had no time to look for job, to work here and there and find money, that is the mistake of most Christians.
In her writings, she had stressed how hard she had worked for God by praying and comforting others, forgetting that we can never work hard for God to deserve something in return. We get paid on basis of faith in His grace and favors, but not on the basis of works (I mean good works as she complained).
So she should have worked hard for herself, she would actually be working for God by taking care of her desires and needs. But most important, she still should ask God in prayer to bless her richly, not in physical terms only, but in spiritual terms and opening her eyes and soul to experience such soul of reaping God and only God to yourself. She has something to ask for, some reward to experience!
Here is the point in its easy form: We serve God to be paid, to be rewarded with good life. This includes happiness and some kind of comfort in this life and then the everlasting life after here.
The priest who lives at the parish, sleeps in the church house and eats on the offertories and foods we give in every Sunday has a reason not to think about job, money and clothes. God serves Him those things through others.
But the Christian living for herself, responsible for her food, her shelter, her transport or clothes, she has all the reasons to demand (I mean to ask) for money, job and the like from God. And when God doesn't grant them physically, He will still grant her something and that something is far much better than our choices and suggestions.
The poverty, material deficiencies and brokenness that torment us, and make our lives miserable are not God’s other way of rewarding His people. In that case, something is wrong with us, the world as it always is or just the time is not yet up. Keep praying, and working, God has something to pay you, and when that pay or reward is delivered, you won't feel the lack, dissatisfaction and torment any more.
“We serve God to find delight and happiness in Him and He fulfills our desires and makes us that happy for His own glory”. Period. If you are not happy or finding some kind of fulfillment and delight in serving God, then something is wrong either spiritually, mentally, economically or any other way of total biblical prosperity, and it needs to be fixed. The difference is that the fixation is not provision of things and items as we need them, but God's presence in us.
God never promised us to be rich in material things when we serve Him, but neither did He say that His people or their children will beg for Bread. I am done.
So should we expect physical and material provisions from God we serve? Yes. And when God doesn't meet our expectations, we should take it that the way or options He took and possibly the best one for us. Finding that harmony in all situations is graciously given and gives us satisfaction and delight in Him in all circumstances.
God bless you all
NB: We explained everything concerning prosperity and what God or Bible says about it for any Christian in the book "IN DEFENSE OF TOTAL CHRISTIAN PROSPERITY."