Christians should desire what God desires ...
Rich? Or Rich Fool??
God has given us many abilities and opportunities, and virtually ALL can be used to glorify God and help establish His kingdom. However ...
Jim Bakker was one of the “great” prosperity preachers of the early 1980’s. His book I Was Wrong chronicles the growth and collapse of his PTL ministry. Like many preachers before and since, Bakker believed that “God wants you to be rich,” and that it was the duty, or at least the prerogative of devout Christians to name and claim the material blessings of God, rather than letting Satan’s crowd enjoy all the goodies by default.
Bakker has since swung to the opposite pole; no doubt an over-reaction to the carnal attitudes that shaped his life before the consequences of his misdeeds were visited on him. This is not to criticize brother Jim. I think he’s right to reject the so-called “prosperity gospel.” But I think perhaps he’s still missing the point.
God has given us many abilities and opportunities, and virtually ALL can be used to glorify God and help establish His kingdom. But these same abilities can be misused. For example, a person with a gift for writing can write poetry that glorifies God. Or, he can misuse his ability by writing smutty stories or pornography. Similarly, the ability to procreate is a good thing within marriage; but outside marriage it is sin.
So also with the ability to get wealth. When used properly, it establishes God’s covenant. When abused, it does the opposite.
The Rich Fool in Luke 12:15-21 was not rebuked for gaining great wealth, but for choosing to use the wealth for his own comfort rather than for its intended purpose of establishing God’s covenant.
And this is the mistake many Christians make today. Their idea of wealth is simply bigger, better, newer toys. “Visualize that new house.” “Put up pictures of that car you want.”
I personally find it a bit presumptuous to declare, “God wants you to have _____” (new house, new car, Hawaiian vacation, new wardrobe, etc.). God makes it clear in His word that He wants us to be holy, separate people, and to become like Christ. Yes, He wants us to be responsible stewards of His property; and yes, He owns it all. But in our quest for wealth we need to always remember that His purpose is to establish His covenant, NOT to spoil His children.
Even more presumptuous is the act of loading up a credit card to buy all the things one claims God wants him to have. Some have even said, “we’ll get raptured before this stuff gets paid off, so someone else can pay for it.” Unfortunately, there do not seem to be many pastors preaching against this sort of thing.
But actually, they shouldn’t have to, since these Christians presumably have a Bible and can read for themselves what God says about the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Mis-characterizing God as a cosmic Santa Claus who shapes His desires to ours is simply idolatry.
The point is that Christians should desire what God desires; to establish His covenant. Getting and managing wealth is a means to that end. When we establish His covenant in our hearts, our homes, our churches and our communities, God will be glorified and His people will be able to enjoy His wealth with a clear conscience, and without fear of God’s rebuke.
Remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth,