The poor can be rich
When prosperity preachers claim that God blesses the faithful with money, they resurrect the attitudes of Jews in Jesus’ time who believed wealth signified a person’s favor (or lack of favor) with God. But Jesus said God “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45) and that the eighteen men who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them were not worse than the other inhabitants of Jerusalem (Luke 13:4).
Who will be blessed with wealth or called to endure poverty? That is not decided simply by the use of a special prayer or commitment to tithe. Rather, it is decided by the sovereign will of God that providentially orders our freely chosen acts according to his divine plan.
Sometimes people are poor because they have made foolish financial decisions that brought them ruin. But other people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control, such as illness, economic downturns, or natural disasters. Being impoverished does not mean a person failed to do something to secure a blessing of prosperity. God has a special concern for the poor (Psalm 34:6), and believers have a special obligation to help the poor (Luke 14:14, 1 John 3:17). James says, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?” (2:5).
Instead of praying for success or comfort, let’s pray for God’s will to be done in our lives and for the strength to follow Christ in whatever circumstances he presents us. St. Paul put it well: “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12-13)
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