The prosperity gospel
Many preachers teach what is called the prosperity gospel: God wants his children to be rich and if we serve him faithfully he will make us wealthy. But most of us know people who live godly lives and yet aren’t financially prosperous. How do we reconcile these two facts? Are the “godly” people really hypocrites who are simply covering up their sins by pretending to serve God? Or are the prosperity teachers wrong? The best way to answer these questions is to see what the Bible says on the subject.
Here is how the Bible describes some people who were faithful to God:
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
That certainly doesn’t sound as if serving God made them prosperous.
And look at what it says about rich people:
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
The people spoken to here clearly didn’t become rich as a reward for righteous living.
And yet Jesus told his followers they would become rich if they followed him.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
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.