By DAVID NOWAK
The Prosperity Gospel teachers are right when they say that the Lord intended for us to live abundant lives.
The problem is that these teachers have misrepresented the Lord’s motives in making these promises to a point where, although they themselves are personally awash in material wealth, their followers rank second lowest of all American Christians in average income (Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life2.) The Lord intended for us to be financially secure so we’d be generous to a fault, not so we could amass personal fortunes at the expense of others.
Now to the how to part, the way God intended it to be. In spite of current evidence to the contrary the Lord always intended for our lives to be much better than those of the pagan/secular world. Here are some of the things God had Moses tell the Israelites when He was preparing them for their life in the Promised Land:
“If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land – your grain, new wine and oil – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young. The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” (Deut. 7:12-15)
Their crops would never fail and would always be abundant. Their flocks and herds would grow in number season after season. Every marriage would produce happy healthy offspring. There would be no disease. In modern terms, this means job security and steadily increasing household wealth, in addition to being blessed with great kids and good health. In short, they would live long and happy lives, secure in the Lord’s blessings. The Lord then gave them this command:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.” (Deut 8:10-11)
He also admonished them never to forget the source of their prosperity, and not make the mistake of thinking they had created their own success. There were to be no self made men in Israel. He would bless them beyond measure, but He wanted all the credit for doing so.
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” “But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deut. 8:17-18)
During the reigns of David and Solomon, these promises came true in a way never before seen on Earth. Israel was blessed with a standard of living that was the envy of every nation. Especially during the reign of Solomon, Israel was the healthiest, wealthiest and happiest nation on Earth.
Now I know what you’re thinking, that was then and this is now. But before you say that these promises were only for Israel, think about this. All these promises are repeated in the New Testament, only now they’re directed toward the church. American Christians need to remember this.
America didn’t become the wealthiest nation on Earth because the Lord promised to bless our nation like He did Israel. There is absolutely no scripture to support such a view. America became wealthy because the freedom to pursue the Christian religion without government interference (separation of church and state) attracted so many faith-filled Christians to its shores that for all practical purposes America became the headquarters for the church on Earth.
As He had promised, God blessed these believers. It’s what came to be known as the Protestant work ethic that produced America’s wealth, and made even average Americans wealthy beyond the expectations of average non-Americans.
Even a cursory study of American history will show that, with few exceptions, our government has always been corrupt, big business has always taken advantage of the little guy, and there’s always been an elite group lurking in the shadows, enriching themselves from the sweat of the common people. Most of our founding fathers were deists. That means they believed in God, but rejected the notion that He would ever involve Himself in human affairs. In spite of their lip service, they never expected God to bless America because deists don’t believe God blesses any nation.
America’s decline began when separation of church and state was reinterpreted to mean that the government could not do anything that was perceived as favoring one religion over another. Having divorced itself from the church, America no longer had any right to the blessings that had come to it because of the church. In seizing the philosophical control of the government, non-believers succeeded only in killing the goose that been laying America’s golden eggs, and in the span of a generation or so America went from being the world’s largest lender to becoming its largest borrower. It was a stunning reversal of fortune.
So many Christians live lives indistinguishable from their worldly neighbors because over 90 percent of Christians have a secular world view. Half their wealth disappeared in the past year because they’re storing up treasure on Earth where the moths and rust of inflation and interest destroy, and the thieves of government and banking break in and steal.
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously … for God loves a cheerful giver. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Cor. 9:6,7-10,11)
If you want real Joy in your life, try this. Within your circle of acquaintances there’s someone in need. Sow generously to help meet that need and you’ll reap accordingly. First there’ll be the joy that comes from giving, followed by an increase in your store of seed. You may actually find that you’ve wound up with more at the end than you had at the start. Next you’ll discover that you’ve begun a chain reaction. As long as you keep sowing the seed the Lord will keep increasing your supply so you can sow still more. This is what it means to be made rich in every way so you can be generous on every occasion. And as a special bonus, each time you sow you’re also storing up treasure in Heaven that nothing can ever devalue.
David Nowak is a Weatherford resident and frequent contributor to Viewpoints.