It’s not a new problem, and it probably started almost immediately. How did Peter, the struggling fisherman, feel about Matthew the wealthy tax collector? Did the disciples have debates about money on top of their usual arguments about who would be the greatest?
Probably since before the beginning of the Christian church, there have been discussions about prosperity. The questions of whether or not a person can be rich and spiritual have probably been raging for millennia, maybe even since the beginning of man’s existence. And the idea that wealth was the sign of God’s favor on a person’s life was prevalent even in Jesus’ day.
The September 18, 2006 edition of Time Magazine had a cover picture that was the front of a Rolls Royce with a cross as a hood ornament. The title of the cover article was: “Does God Want You To Be Rich?”
All in all, the article was pretty much what I would expect from a magazine like Time. The bias was somewhat toward that idea that the current resurgence of “Prosperity Theology” is not a good thing, and that it’s just a handful of American mega-churches that are preaching it, while more “mainstream” pastors find the whole idea ridiculous, if not downright evil. I found it a bit disappointing that the writer felt the need to comment on one “prosperity” preacher’s expensive shoes.
No matter where it got started, the idea that truly spiritual people are the ones who have forsaken worldly riches and pleasures is definitely firmly entrenched in the minds of many people. And for those involved with the prosperity teachings, the idea is that God does want His people to have all the worldly goods and heaven too.
Whether they are believers, or scoffers, isn’t so much the issue. The real question is: What does the Bible teach us about being wealthy? Does the Bible really teach us that it’s wrong to be rich? Or does it really say that poverty is sin and everyone should be rich? And, if we are supposed to be rich, what does that really mean?
In this short introduction to prosperity, we will take a look the general idea that it’s not so much a matter of being rich, in terms of our possessions, but that prosperity really has to do with being faithful with what we have been given. And because it has to do with being faithful, it applies not only in American mega-churches, but also all over the world.
In Luke 16:10-12 Jesus says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”
There are a couple of points in this particular statement that we need to highlight. The first is that Jesus is saying our faithfulness with “what is least” affects how faithful we will be with much, or more. He then goes on to point out a couple of “least” things: “Unrighteous mammon” and “what is another man’s”.
When I read these verses, I hear Jesus telling us that our faithfulness with money affects every other area of our lives. And if we have not been faithful with money, and the things that don’t belong to us, we will never enjoy true riches or have real responsibility (things that are our own).
And, when it comes to what belongs to another man, we should always remember that nothing really belongs to us, it all belongs to God.
Many people will say that money isn’t that important, but Jesus is telling us something very different. When we look at what Jesus says here, we see that our attitudes towards, and use of, money are extremely important. Jesus tells us that our faithfulness with money will control the degree to which we are entrusted with the true riches.