A while back I was discussing the subject of wealth with another Christian. During the course of the conversation I stated that sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have the physical ability to put in a good days work and sweat for the money we make. I also said that I’m grateful for whatever I have without expecting to be given more. This is the response I got: “What you lack in your life will dominate you. Reality is that once you die, you die. There can be no regrets on the death bed. You either lived life to the fullest, carpe diem, or you watched life go by. It’s better to be rich and to live your life on your terms, than to be poor and subject yourself to what someone else wants for you.”
Are we a community of believers or a clustering of competitors? Christians with this get rich mentality find prosperity passages in the bible in order to justify greedy ambition. They consider my way of thinking to be a ‘poverty mentality’ because they equate contentment with slothfulness. This might be the case with some folks, but it is not the case for all. Living in gratitude and contentment does not keep anyone from setting or achieving higher standards. In fact, the opposite is often true. A person who truly believes that their life has a planned purpose will be driven to accomplish what they feel God is directing them to do. And, because they submit to God’s will instead of their own, their decisions are based on wisdom and understanding instead of rash emotions. In addition, because they know their worth to God they are no longer compelled to impress anyone.
In contrast, people who are afraid of not measuring up to the perceived expectations of others are in a continual competition mode; always trying to prove themselves. This ‘gotta have, gotta be someone’ mentality is a sure path to impoverishment, frustration and hopelessness. These people spend money they don’t have to get what they don’t need, trying to prove their worth to people who really don’t care. They end up accumulating debt along with their possessions, which usually wear out long before the debt is liquidated. People who can’t wait to have what they want and are focused on attaining wealth for wealth’s sake, end up making poor financial and life decisions that get them- and keep them- in the state of poverty that they are desperately attempting to avoid.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. It would be wonderful to have the ability to bless others with the overflow of my abundance. So if a financial windfall blows my way…I’ll receive it with open arms. However, the soul searching question that every Christian should ask is: “What is my reason for wanting to be prosperous?” It is important for us to know the answer to this question because it will reveal to us the condition of our heart. We are so easily deceived into thinking that we are on track. If we want to be blessed with prosperity, then we’ve got to get our priorities right.
Rest assured, we can’t hide the motives of our heart from God. If we are obsessed in getting what we do not have—be it a relationship, a successful career, or material possessions—we have become idol worshippers. Worship means placing value on one thing above everything else. This is on the top of God’s ‘No, No’ list. Why would any Christian think that God will give them the very thing that they value more than Him? We were designed to be worshippers…of HIM. Are we striving to live up to the standards of the world or those of God? It matters. Blessings are the direct result of submissive obedience. God will bless our socks off when we can honestly say “Lord, whatever you want in my life is alright by me”.
By the way, the meaning of prosperity in the bible includes more than just material possessions. According to Strong’s Complete Concordance of the Bible, one Hebrew word for prosperity is shalom, which means “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace and favor.” It represents completeness; in your physical body and even covers your relationships with God and with people. This is what God wants to release into our lives.
The crazy thing is that most of us don’t really believe that He will give us what we really want and don’t want to wait for Him to prove that He will. Even though Christ is evidence of unmerited favor. If we never attain anything else, this is more than any of us ever deserved. Yet, Matthew 6:33 reminds us that if we seek God first He will give us everything we need.