Blessings bring you Riches!
- Will God bless me with wealth if I am a good Christian?
Not necessarily, but this is an understandable point of confusion. Parts of the Old Testament make statements to the effect that God shows favor to the righteous by giving them wealth. In the book of Proverbs we read, “The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings them trouble” (Proverbs 15:6), and, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it” (Proverbs 10:22). As with all passages of Scripture, though, context must be taken into account. The book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings, observations about how God’s world works. In other words, the proverbs are principles (how things normally go) rather than promises (how things will certainly go for you). While it is generally true that obedience and faithful stewardship lead to prosperity, it is quite inappropriate for any one person to presume on this rule of thumb, or to make demands of God. God does not promise us a life free of troubles, financial or otherwise. Quite to the contrary, Jesus warns, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33a). Jesus suffered greatly on our behalf, and it is only natural that his followers should share in his suffering. But he goes on, “Take heart. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
- Should I ask God to make me prosperous as Jabez prayed?
Probably not, if our goal in praying it is to acquire wealth. While the prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10) has inspired many, it is instructive to note that it is never modeled as a prayer for New Testament believers. Rather, the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were written to Israelites who had returned from Babylonian captivity and needed encouragement to obey God and his law. The Bible portrays Jabez as someone who pursued God’s holy intentions for Israel: occupying Canaan and experiencing God’s physical and material blessings in that land while avoiding the harm and suffering which come from disobedience (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Jabez was “more honorable than his brothers” (4:9), and thus God answered his prayer. Some of us are tempted to recite Jabez’s prayer in a desire to build “bigger barns” for ourselves rather than being “rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21). But God’s intentions for present-day Christians include our willingness to follow him in suffering and sacrifice for the sake of others (2 Corinthians 8:9; Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus never told us to ask for wealth: He tells us to ask for “our daily bread,” or enough to live on (Matthew 6:11; 1 Timothy 6:6-10). Perhaps more appropriate than Jabez’s prayer for Christians today is, “God, help me give generously as you provide more than I need.” Or, “Lord, help me to do kingdom work with the time, talents and treasure you richly provide.” Nor does Jesus teach us that we will never be harmed; he tells us to pray that we won’t be tempted, and to ask for strength in difficult times and deliverance from “the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). Yes, we are called to pray for healing and health, but the Lord’s will is more important than our desires and earthly hopes and sometimes means walking through suffering (1 John 5:14-15; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).