God Wants You to Be Rich, Not Wealthy

Published by DonDavidson on

Prosperity preachers get wealthy by convincing their followers that God will make them wealthy, too, if they just give to these preachers’ ministries. And in support they often quote Mark 10:29-30:

Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

But these prosperity preachers conveniently omit what comes right before Mark 10:29-30: the story of the rich young man who asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell everything and give the money to the poor. When the young man walks away disheartened, Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

The apostle Paul says something similar in 1 Timothy 6:9 when he warns that those who want to become wealthy are falling into a trap which leads to ruin and destruction.

Why would God want to make you wealthy if it leads you down a path of ruin and destruction, and makes it almost impossible for you to enter the kingdom of God?

Jesus, Paul, and the apostles never acquired money or possessions. Most of the first century Christians were poor.

So both scripture and history tell us that Mark 10:29-30 doesn’t really mean what these prosperity preachers claim it means. Then what does it mean? I think Jesus meant this: If you left your house and possessions for my sake, you will be welcomed into the homes of hundreds of people who love me. If you left your family for my sake, you will gain a much larger family—the family of God.

Oh, and something else those prosperity preachers don’t talk about—Jesus also said we would have persecutions. But that’s a topic for another day.

So when one of these prosperity preachers tells you God will make you wealthy, or will heal you or a loved one, if you send them money—you should know that it’s a scam. God is not a vending machine—you can’t just put in your money and get whatever you want.

In Luke chapter 12, Jesus tells the parable of a man who built larger barns to store all of his wealth, but died before he could enjoy the fruits of his labors. Jesus ends the parable by saying: “Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in relation to God.” (Luke 12:21) God has no interest in making you wealthy, but he does want you to be “rich in relation to God.”

So how do we get rich in relation to God? Let’s look at three scriptures that will help us:

1.         Matthew 22:34-40:

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Love God and love people. Pretty simple, yet profound. Easy to remember, but not at all easy to do. God insists that we make Him the most important thing in our lives—more important than our family, more important than our job, more important than life itself. And then he tells us to love people. But “love” in this context—agapaô in the Greek—is not a feeling, but an action. God calls us to be kind to other people regardless of how we feel about them. That means we don’t return insult for insult. We don’t seek revenge. We instead do acts of kindness, regardless of whether or not we think the recipient deserves such kindness.

2.         Hebrews 13:5: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have.”

The author of Hebrews tells us to be content with what we have. In 1 Timothy 6:8 Paul says essentially the same thing: “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” And in Philippians 4:11 Paul says: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

Be content. Yet we tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future. A sign of real spiritual maturity is to simply live in the present and trust God for whatever comes. That is surely what Jesus meant when He said: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

When we worry about what is coming around the bend, we too often miss the blessings God is giving us today, such as a beautiful sunset, a walk in the park, or a conversation with a good friend.  

3.         Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. . . .”

Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit is very advanced stuff. Joy and peace may seem like a cakewalk until some tragedy or misfortune occurs, and then they can seem unattainable. Patience and self-control don’t seem difficult until we are confronted with someone who is rude, inconsiderate, or simply mean. Faithfulness is no problem until our prayers seem to go unanswered for days or weeks on end and we feel like no one is listening—or worse, that God doesn’t really care.

God wants us to have the close, trusting, loving relationship with him that he made us for. Money and possessions can get in the way of that relationship, as Jesus told us in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

So don’t try to be wealthy. Instead, try to be rich toward God.


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