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Biblical Prosperity – What’s the Purpose?

Written on the back of an old notebook are the words, “What’s the purpose?”.  As a youth pastor, it helped me to remember that if I didn’t have a strong biblical purpose behind my actions they probably weren’t accomplishing much.  It turns out its still true today, and it’s especially true of money.

Is money evil?

Is money evil?

Money can be a powerful tool.  For some, it’s enough rope to hang themselves.  For others, it’s a vice.  Some can just never have enough (we call that greed). It seems like the topic of money, maybe more than any other topic in the Bible, can throw Christians immediately into a ditch on one side of the road or the other.  It’s important that we keep a Biblical perspective, so we stay focused on Jesus so we keep marching straight.  The problem is, we don’t get to determine what “straight” is.  The Bible has already laid it out for us and it’s up to us to discover what God has said about it.

I’ve heard more times than I can remember, “Well, the Bible says that money is the root of all evil.”  If you’ve read I Timothy 6:10, you already know where this is going.  The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil, it says that the love of money is the root of all evil.

I Timothy 6:10 (NASB)

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

We’ll talk more about this in a later article, but I want to make sure you see the scripture for yourself.  Even better, go grab a Bible (or an online version) and read the entire chapter for yourself.  It’s too easy to take things out of context when you hear a piece from someone else.  You may have been raised to believe that money was evil or at least you learned to fear it.  It’s important to reset that with a Biblical perspective.

It is at least as important to understand the other side of money.  God is not up in heaving raining down golden Krugerrands upon us.  Heaven doesn’t host an intergalactic lottery – so there’s no point in sitting around waiting for God to pull the one-armed-bandit in your favor.  God is not a get-rich-quick scheme and He did not institute the “Can Philosophy”.  You know — “Get all you can.  Can all you get; and sit on the can.”  Here is another reason it’s important to understand God’s taken on all of this.

Alright, so what is money – what is the purpose?  Let’s wind back to Deuteronomy for this.  In Deuteronomy 8:18 the Bible has this to say:

But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (NASB)

The wording in this verse is so beautiful — let’s take a minute to disect.  First, he says “But you shall remember the Lord your God”.  Here, he’s talking to the Israelites before they go into the promised land.  He is preparing them for when they are blessed.  God has a plan to take them into “a land of milk and honey”, that is, a good land.  Essentially, God has already told them He is going to bless them.  Now He’s telling them to remember Him once they are blessed.

Then it says, “for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth”.  Notice it is God who is giving them the power to make wealth.  That’s significant for several reasons.  Again, God didn’t rain down gold Krugerrands on them.  Before this, in verse 9 He says “out of [the promised land's] hills you may dig copper”.  Here, God gave them the ability to dig copper (something valuable) out of the hills.  It wouldn’t do them any good to dig in their back yard, but it also wouldn’t do them any good to sit in the promised land wondering when God would bring the copper.  They had to combine human effort with God blessing.  Part of it is our responsibility (we can probably all dig) and part of that was God’s responsibility (filling hills with copper seems more like a God act, don’t you think?).

So God has given us the power, or ability, to make wealth.  Very often we are led to believe that there is a certain amount of wealth (money) in the world and if I take some, you have less.  We just learned from the Bible, however, that God is expecting us to make wealth.

Go ahead.  I’ll give you a mintue to twitch.  Better?  Perfect.

“Yeah, well how am I supp–”  Glad you asked.  Here’s an example.  Joe the farmer plants some apple trees (notice his work here).  Those trees grow up and produce apples.  Every year.  Now, one day Joe realizes he’s been standing for 10 years.  He would like some where to sit down.  Tim offers to make Joe a chair and in return Tim receives a year supply of apples.  What did we have at the beginning of this story?  Dirt.  Tim.  Joe.  At the end, we have Joe sitting on a new chair and Tim eating apples he didn’t have to plant.  They both put in some effort and now Joe and Tim’s world is a better place.  Obviously this is a simple example, but the entire world functions like this, just on a larger scale.  Go ahead, start to dig up your own examples.

Let’s get back to our verse, “that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers”.  Well, if God’s confirming His covenant with our fathers (and those of the Israelites), we should figure out what that is.  Time to back up a little more.  In Genesis 15:18, God made a covenant with Abraham regarding his seed and the promised land.  I’m going to let you dig that one up, but the point is that as part of God’s covenant with Abraham (and with Abraham’s seed, see Galatians 3:29) He gave them power to create wealth.

See, the creation of wealth was part of God’s covenant with man and part of His purpose and plan for us.  As with any covenant, there are two sides.  What is our side?  Well, we could read the entire New Testament for that, but let’s apply it cardinally to the great commission.  In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… (NKJV)

In other words, God has given us the power to create wealth to establish His kingdom on this earth.  It takes resources to preach the Gospel — both financial and not.  We can’t be so addicted to wealth that we neglect all the other things God has called us to.  At the same time, we cannot be negligent with finances or we would be neglecting the very will of God.

Finally, to understand the purpose of money, we need to also understand what money can do.  “Buy Stuff!”  While that is true, there’s also a deeper use behind money that’s important to see.  Money is not an end.  Our goal in life should never be focused around the acquisition of money.  That would be like our carpenter Tim spending his whole life to collect hammers.  That’s not really what carpenters do.  Neither should we be spending our lives collecting money — However, we should be using money to accomplish God’s purpose in the earth.

So, God has given us power to obtain wealth to establish His covenenant.  That is one of the purposes of money that we see in the Word.  Clearly there are others, such as simply to bless His children (He loves us and desires that we are blessed [III John :2]), and to give to the poor.  Wealth isn’t a bad thing, God has given it to us. With it, we are able to have a positive impact on the world we live in.

Get filled with God.  Create wealth.  Change the world.

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1 Comment so far
  1. AndrewBoldman June 4, 2009 8:34 pm

    da best. Keep it going! Thank you

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