The so-called “prosperity gospel,” a prevalent teaching among some evangelicals, claims that material prosperity is a right afforded to all Christians who think, believe, and speak certain things. If you are not “healthy and wealthy,” as the teaching goes, you “must not be living in the center of God’s will.”
Such teaching is certainly not new. Here in the United States it first arose as soldiers returned home soon after World War II, but it has gained global popularity during the last three decades as many evangelists have taken this message to the airwaves and the Internet. Yet, Bible-believing Christians should recognize it as simply a false front for the old-fashioned sin of “covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
True scriptural study shows that typical prosperity gospel themes are nearly always taken out of context. In no way does the Lord Jesus promise material wealth to a Christian, but rather He warns us against “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:18-19) as seen in the parable of the soils. Pursuit of such devious prosperity could soon choke out whatever place the Word of God once had in believers’ lives, depleting the strength of their testimonies and hindering many from the saving power of the Cross.
Money and wealth are not the problem. Rather, it is the desire for and the love of such things that lead to destruction and sorrow. As the apostle Paul once cautioned Timothy:
Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
If by His grace the Lord does enable a Christian to acquire wealth, it should be regarded as a divine stewardship and opportunity for ministry. Paul—who died a penniless prisoner on Earth but with vast treasures laid up in heaven—expressed it this way:
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
However much a Christian may have on Earth, incorruptible and everlasting wealth in heaven is promised to those who faithfully apply what they do have in a spirit of true biblical stewardship. Regrettably, the term “stewardship” has become largely associated with giving money. Yet everything we have—not only money, but also our time, talent, and testimony—has been committed to us in trust by God to be used for His glory. We are His stewards, appointed by the Master to keep and manage all things committed to our care. And as Master, He rightfully expects a good return.
ICR is certainly not exempt from the same expectations of godly stewardship, and we earnestly seek to be found a “faithful and wise servant” (Matthew 24:45) in the work He has entrusted to us. Likewise, all gifts to ICR are applied in the same careful fashion, because they naturally represent an extension of personal stewardship from many like-minded believers. ICR is grateful for those who choose to practice good stewardship with us, and we invite your continued support as the Lord leads.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.