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Does God want you to be rich?

This was the big question for Time Magazine in its September 18th edition. So what’s the answer?

 Time went on to say, A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful, YES!  But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors.

Which group is right? One group calls it paradise the other, poison. Some big name evangelicals such as Joel Osteen, Kribyjon Caldwell and Joyce Meyer push financial prosperity as a major indicator of God’s favour. Others such as Rick Warren, Ron Sider and Ben Witherington totally disagree. Let me give a crystal clear answer to the thorny question “Does God want you to be rich?”  Maybe!

It’s amazing how the devil can get people arguing over different perspectives on the same truth. Just to avoid confusion let’s define terms. By the word rich we mean monetary riches on planet earth, not riches in heaven or intangible blessings such as peace and joy here on earth. In other words, “Does God want you to have lots of money now?”  That’s the question. 

The Bible’s position on this is simple. Let me give a crystal clear answer to the thorny question “Does God want you to be rich?” Maybe! That’s right, maybe. It all depends where we are in God’s school. Sometimes God wants us richer and sometimes God wants us poorer.

What’s hard to understand about that? God has devoted an entire book to this question. The book of Job predates Moses’ receiving the 10 commandments from God. God made Job the richest man in the land, then he allowed him to become the poorest and then God made him the richest again. The message in the book of Job is not about how to gain or lose money but how to stay focused on loving God regardless of financial conditions.

God’s main program for us all is character development by learning to trust and obey him exclusively.

One of the biggest obstacles to genuine growth in godliness is the love of money. God wanted the rich young ruler to become poorer (on earth) by giving all his money away. The young man loved his money more than he trusted Jesus.

God wanted Joseph, Mary and young Jesus richer just before their trip to Egypt and had foreigners provide gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The school of godliness usually includes a financial course on the faithfulness of God. This means a few roller coaster rides to see what we can stomach. Can we handle abrupt swings in our lifestyle? 
The question should be, “What does God want me to do with the resources I have NOW – be it much or little.”
The apostle Paul wrote of learning to be content with much or with little.  The financial question is: “Are we willing to change our lifestyle, up or down, if the Lord requires it? What about me? Does God want me richer or poorer? Don’t be caught by the decoy. That’s the wrong question. It’s a leading question narrowly focused on money matters.

The question should be, “What does God want me to do with the resources I have NOW – be it much or little.” Jesus said “seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness” and not to copy the pagans whose primary goal is wealth maximization.

Don’t be caught in pursuing the wrong goal by taking vows of poverty (quite uncommon) or by selling our soul to the almighty dollar (quite common). Sometimes God uses riches as a reward for good management of previously entrusted assets as in the parable of the talents – the one who worked with his allotment increased it, but the one who did nothing by burying his resources became even poorer. Other times riches are a curse as seen when Judas was suddenly richer with 30 pieces of silver or when the Roman soldiers were bribed again by the Pharisees to lie about the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Proverbs we are warned, “Do not toil to gain wealth, be discerning enough to desist” Proverbs 23:4 ESV.

The Bible commands us to work and work hard, but it should be in the pursuit of God’s kingdom and righteousness. Wealth may come and go but remember - righteousness always trumps riches.