I don’t consider myself a prosperous person though some people may say that I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve. I recently read a CNN blog article on religion that I disagree with not on a basis of facts but on the basis of perspectives.
The article as well as many Christians in our modern society hate the idea of correlating prosperity with God’s favor and blessing for good reason.
There are plenty of verses in scripture that seem to show a disdain for the rich and wealthy and a lot of people use these verses out of context or perspective to say that if you’re well off then you must be your greed that put you there, not something you did right before God.
Every good biblical doctrine though can’t exist without two sets of complete extremes of course so there are also those who on the other side of the spectrum believe that if you’re not prospering then that must mean God has not blessed you and thus a sign of your inability to follow in God’s will as a Christian.
This particular CNN article in my opinion got it wrong when it fired back at a celebrity christian by the name of Dave Ramsey who teaches people how to get out of debt. Their focus seemed to be more of an attempt to villanize the man for his own personal wealth than it was trying to explain the differing perspectives even with it’s platitudes about his advice being good for most people at the beginning.
Yet in both of these two extreme cases I’ve described above there is a lack of perspective which permeates the talking points, on one hand those who are against the idea of God singling out individuals through wealth may see an unfairness in such a doctrine.
They believe that God is no respecter of person’s as they should and would argue against such a view because some who live in abject poverty doing purely God’s work will never see real wealth in their lifetime. There may also be some personal misgivings about why God would choose to bless some while allowing themselves or others of the same faith to suffer financially.
On the other hand there are those who see a lack of financial stability and prosperity from another christian as an inability to turn their faith into actions. They usually tend to believe that God is either punishing the individual for their bad decisions or that the person is not holding to certain doctrinal beliefs such as tithing or the reap and sow concepts taught by scripture which may all be the case.
You know what the only difference between these two views are? Perspectives about how they see their opposing counter part and that is what God seems to teach in scripture.
As an example, scripture teaches us to tithe or give 10% of what we make back to God, it’s the only time in the entire bible that God tells you to test him, see if he won’t bless you if you give or curse you if you don’t. Yet if you have the wrong perspective on tithing then you may grow to believe that tithing is like pulling God’s arm and when things go wrong financially in one’s life they may question whether they should have tithed in the first place.
Understanding all sides of a discussion and having differing perspectives on a subject is what makes us a Christian. We don’t judge others because we are taught to understand their good perspective even if we think they are totally wrong but we also don’t help just anyone who says they need it because we also understand their bad perspectives may have put them in their situation.
This is what Dave Ramsey seems to teach, this is what I myself believe with all of my heart. My perspective teaches me that I don’t give 10% of my finances back to God but that God let’s me keep 90% of what he gives me. Christ used differences in perspectives to teach his parables and doctrines and this is what we need to do in order to shut out the extreme views on both sides of us.
As a Christian I don’t believe everyone who is wealthy is evil, Job, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon and many others from both the new and old testament were blessed by God with wealth and the wisdom to know what to do with it. And they weren’t always just taught to give their wealth away to the poor, they were taught stewardship.
As a Christian I don’t believe everyone who is poor is by definition good either, there were many times in scripture where entire nations as well as individuals suffered from famine, starvation, invasion, complete and utter poverty and destruction because they or their fathers and grandfathers chose to ignore what God was trying to teach them.
Both representations I just made are exceptions to the the common perceptions we have that rich people are evil because they have no humility and suffering while poor people are good because all they have is humility and suffering. The real story of the rich man and Lazarus highlights this.
In truth the real evil here is the mis-characterizations of people solely based on class distinctions verses what they are actually doing with their lives for both for themselves and for Christ. What does a man profit if he gains the whole world but doesn’t do anything for God in the process, in the same light what profits a man if does everything for God and does nothing to take care of himself or his family.
God did not make us to be singular minded and thoughtless creatures, if we understand the principle that it is irresponsible for a rich man to only care about money more than his family or friends (aka the church) then we must also understand that it’s irresponsible and wrong for a poor man to only care about church work or himself while his family and friends (aka the church) starve and suffer.
God does bless some and not bless others in the same way, that doctrine is throughout scripture. He does it because he has a greater plan in mind and he knows just how much you can handle and what you can’t.
In the end Money is the root of all evil but is not evil in and of itself. Money does not make you evil, it merely enhances your existing good or evil traits a bit more. What this means is that if you are already not generous, more money will only make you even less generous. If you’re already wasteful than more money will only cause that to be enhanced.
Judging the wealthy just because one takes a verse out of context is as wrong of a perspective as judging the poor for the same thing. In the end what we have is not our own, it is given to us by God so that we can be good stewards of it. Some will do a poor job stewarding over what great things “God” gave them while others will do well with what little “God” provides.
Jesus did not choose the poor to inherit the earth because they are somehow ideologically or spiritually superior to the rich, he chose them because they are more receptive. With nothing in this world to really cling to they are less likely to turn down the gospel if it is introduced to them through good works of kindness and generosity. Both types otherwise have the same propensity of sin.
It’s not our place to determine who is worthy of God’s blessing and for what reason, it’s only our responsibility to follow God’s principles ourselves and do the best with what he has given us, but most importantly to be content (happy) in whatever that is.