We talk a lot about creating wealth, but as a Christian I have found two opposing notions of wealthy Christians – on the one hand there are those who believe in the vow of poverty; glorifying being poor as if it somehow makes one more holy. Stories of people like Mother Theresa who lived a simple life in order to serve appeal a great deal to those who hold this view. On the other hand there are those who subscribe to the prosperity gospel – the name it and claim it group who talk at length about how Abraham was a very wealthy man, and know the prayer of Jabez by heart ‘Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
Both these positions can be found in the bible; and so what is it that God desires of us? This is my view – first of all desires US – to know him, to love him, to serve him. He created us, and as Ephesians 2:10 clearly states – we are his handiwork, created in Christ for good works of service which God prepared in advance for us to do. In other words, before God made me he had prepared in advance what my purpose is, and how I am to fulfill it. And he gave me all the gifts and talents I need to do that. But I cannot find what that path or purpose is until I find myself in him. Only then will I be able to know if my path is a Mother Theresa one or an Abraham one. And whichever one it turns out to be, I will be happy following it because it will fulfill me in a way no other can.
I am concerned however, that some people whose path is an Abraham one have been put off pursuing it, in large part because of the damage that the prosperity gospel has done to the church. But there is a place for those who will faithfully steward resources God has generously given us, and do so not only for their own benefit, but for the sake of others. When a man uses every talent he has to its fullest extent, by that very act he glorifies the one who gave that talent in the first place. And when that is done to God’s glory, many others benefit.
There is nothing wrong with being a wealthy Christian if that is the path that God has for you; you might be blessed to be a blessing. In fact you would be in great company. George Mueller, known for setting up orphanages that ultimately went on to look after 10,000 children could not have done what he did without money. In his lifetime, Mueller is said to have raised $150 million dollars, all of which he gave away. But this is not the astounding fact – what is more important is why he did, and how he did it. In his own words, his aim was ‘to show that God is still engaged in the affairs of man today’. Believing that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says he will do, he prayed in every last cent of that money. And the results to this day are ‘to the glory of God’.
Are you inspired yet? Go on and change your world; to the glory of God and for the sake of others.