A few years ago I found a video on YouTube featuring a collection of some of the craziest examples of the so-called "prosperity theology" movement. For those that don't know, it's a controversial teaching that God will shower the righteous with all the money in the world. As I watched the video, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.
The most chilling statement is from the one pastor who says, "You'll never be happy until you have money." Which is odd because, according to my Bible, Jesus says to lay your treasures in Heaven and not on Earth.
For some reason the ways of the world tend to sneak into the Church. We're constantly surrounded by all these voices in the media saying money is the key to happiness, and that we'll never have enough money. Before you know it you have books like The Prayer of Jabez, which is basically a little "Bless me" prayer that you're supposed to repeat over and over again and all your wildest dreams will come true. Or something like that. That prayer might have worked for Jabez, but I can't help but remember King Solomon. He didn't pray for money or riches or anything like that. He only asked for one thing: wisdom. And according to the Bible, no one was wiser or richer than Solomon.
God is a giving god. He gives the earth its beauty, and gives us humans all we need. Notice how I said "need" and not "want." What we need and what we want are two completely different things altogether. For example, I'd love to have lots of money and the latest Mac gadgets. I'd love to sit on a big comfy leather couch and watch the Orioles on a big screen HD TV. But do I really need any of that? No. All I need is a roof over my head, food on the table, and enough money to support my family.
Also, while we American Christians pray for money so we can buy brand new iPhones, there are people on the other side of the world who make less than a dollar a day. They clutch their stomachs at night because they don't have anything to eat. They'll walk barefoot for miles just to get a bucket of water. Meanwhile, "cutting back" for us means going to Starbucks less.
"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) Christianity isn't a self-help plan to make you rich. It's about serving God, period.