Deception of Abundance

Prosperity is being widely preached in Christianity today. While prosperity and abundance is a blessing to many Christians, it is not a promise given in the New Covenant. While most Christians ask for the blessings of abundance and treasures of this world, many does not know why abundance is given to them or what the bible commands them to follow after abundance is given or when the blessings of abundance becomes a sin.

Prov 28:20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Heart on Treasures

Matt 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

A direct command from Jesus is not to lay up treasures on earth because our heart will also be set on it. When Christ said ‘treasures’, He is mentioning the abundance and not referring to basic needs.

How many Christians today truly follow Christ by not laying up treasures on earth?

God’s blessing of abundance or treasures are by themselves not a sin. However, it is hard for those who have them to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 10:23-25 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Paul in his letter explains the problems of being rich.

1Tim 6:7-10 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Those who desire to be rich fall into temptations with foolish and harmful lusts. Even if they don’t fall into temptations, Christ gave two important commandments to even enter into Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ’s Commands

Mark 10:20-24 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 

Luke 12:33-34 “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Christ is not asking the rich man to sell all he had which is a bad translation or interpretation but rather asking him to have treasure in heaven rather than on earth. Treasures are the abundances we have and not the things we require to meet our basic needs. Christ teaches two important points which are required to enter Kingdom of Heaven.

  • Not to trust in riches
  • Must give to those who are in need

If you look into the conversation of the rich man with Christ, to enter kingdom of heaven, the rich man followed all commandments in the law yet he lacks one thing. He is required to sell his abundance and give it to the poor and to follow Him. But the rich wasn’t willing to sell his abundant riches and help the poor but store all his abundance for himself. This is the sin of the rich man in the below Lazarus and the rich man parable and many rich Christians still have this sin being unable to enter kingdom of Heaven.

Sin of the Rich Man

Luke 16:19-22,25-31 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. …..“But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’

The rich man with all his abundance did not help the poor beggar at his gate.

Deut 15:7-8 If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.

Ezek 16:49 “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

Helping a poor Israelite at the gates was a specific commandment in the law. Yet the rich man did not obey neither the law nor of the prophets.

1 Tim 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Ready to give and willing to share is required to lay hold on eternal life.

Luke 3:8-11 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then? He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

What does John preach to avoid being cut off? To give from our abundance to the poor. This is not a option but a requirement for us to bear good fruit. This is exactly what James taught when he said, faith without works is dead.

Giving to Reap More

Luke 21:1-4 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” 

Luke 18:28-30 Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

The poor widow gave all she had for her livelihood and the disciples left all that they had and followed Christ. Jesus Christ did not ask us to give everything we have but only not to store our abundance to ourselves but to help the poor and needy. However, giving to God, no matter how little it is, if we sacrifice our own needs to help others, it is more in the sight of God and will reap a hundred fold in this age and in eternal life. Therefore, let us desire to reap more in eternal life and store treasures in heaven.

Conclusion

We are required to help the fellow poor and needy Christians either through the church or independently from our abundance. While helping poor and needy is important, giving to an unbeliever is not giving to God. Refer to Deception of Charity and Giving to God for a detailed explanation and Bible references. However, if an unbeliever is desperately in need of help, we must have compassion and save him.

Storing up treasures to ourselves and not helping a fellow believer in need is a sin. Neither they can enter kingdom of Heaven nor Eternal life is not for them. The abundance which God gives as a blessing is actually to help others who are in need and not for our own luxury to store up treasures to ourselves.