I recently had a short discussion with a fellow Christian about wealth creation. Their views of the marketplace, wealth creation, and our abilities to be the light in the darkness of the marketplace seemed to hinder or squelch God’s purpose severely. It started with this comment.
To the “prosperity as a blessing” Gospel people. Why did Paul, and many other saints over time, die in prison, etc.? Kindness is not kind, when void of Truth.
I agree that there will be persecutions of Christians by others, and they will suffer, and God will bless them for their sufferings. Like the persecution of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips by a few that want to ruin him, as well as others for our faith, whether or not we’ve done them wrong. Alternatively that America’s Founders of our Republic all suffered to build our new nation built on new principles. It was our Founder’s motivation for what is right, which should continue to be our fight, not to blight God’s economic prosperity and marketplace principles of “be fruitful and multiply.”
Persecution by others is not the same thing as a religious, narcissistic martyr and self-flagellation which have never been a Biblical directive. Any self-proclaimed martyr’s path toward any form of asceticism seems to translate into behaviors of depreciating and even avoiding any prosperity potential at all. This ascetic mindset sees the errors of idol work to chase wealth AND the Biblical truth of ideal work to create wealth as opportunities to chastise wealth at any chance.
Jesus Himself talked about the attitudes of these people.
Matt 6:16-18 AMPC And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and [a]sour and [b]dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full already. But when you fast, perfume your head and wash your face, So that your fasting may not be noticed by men but by your Father, Who sees in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.
God “will reward you in the open” means in public, when we please Him in secret, not when we’re looking for the approbation of others. Even when the Gospel of the Kingdom is called “Good News” or translated as “Good Tidings,” it is awful hard to see how God wants “doom and gloom” for us rather than His focus towards a “groom and bloom” perspective, even when under stress. Having a “sour” and “dreary” disposition does not give a good impression of a loving God or His abilities and desire to bless others, especially His family. However, the very words of Jesus completely counter the ascetic’s wearisome poverty attitudes.
John 10:10 (AMP) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
Then later in our discussion, they state the following.
The Gospel is not about creating or not having earthly wealth. The focus is on obtaining Salvation and Heaven through stewardship of the earth, not by receiving the earth. If your focus is on gaining reward in this life…heaven is lost to you. For those who love this life will lose it, and those who lose their life will gain life eternal.
Friend, tell your comments to the face of the homeless, orphan, widow, destitute, and the oppressed who have little or nothing and suffer daily. That ANY opportunity or ability beyond “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” to create wealth for themselves and others, “till it overflows,” with God’s help is wrong or even “sinful” to pursue!
Jesus has strong words for these religiously ascetic attitudes.
Luke 17:1-2 (AMP) And [Jesus] said to His disciples, Temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come! It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones [[a]lowly in rank or influence].
The Greek word “woe” means “an interjection of grief or of denunciation.” Creating wealth is not an “either/or” comment, either heaven or earth, but God’s view is an “and” comment. Yes, we’re first to connect with God and His will, but we have work to do here, we’re “in, but not of” this world.
Like the scene in Saving Private Ryan, “Earn this!”, earn this, profits, by serving others. Creating wealth is not about the love of money or the ascetic’s purposeful lack of money, but finding God’s purpose of money, to continue to put it to use serving God and others.