There is plenty of confusion regarding wealth and prosperity. Some people put blame on those who teach on the blessings of God. They are accused of preaching a “Prosperity Gospel,” one that they claim is not Biblical.
In Matthew 26, when someone used expensive perfume on Jesus, the disciples complained that the money could have been used to help the poor. Several years ago, when our church met in a hotel here in our town, several people complained that the expense of renting that hall was a waste.
With all these arguments swirling around, many people feel a sense of guilt regarding what they own and enjoy in life. In this brief post, we won’t be able to take an exhaustive look at this issue, but I want to draw out some principles from Hosea 10:1,2: “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars. Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.”
It would be impossible to define what amount of salary is too much, which car is too expensive, how big of a house one should live in, how costly can your wardrobe be, or other factors that we use to determine wealth. From the above verses I believe there are three things we need to keep a check on: Your altars, pillars, and heart.
1. Check your altars
When the Israelites increased in wealth, they built more altars. Their love for God became a matter of influence. They used “religion” as an opportunity to build relationships with foreign nations. They hoped that the increase in such relations would bring in more wealth. God was never interested in religion. He wanted a relationship with his people.
When your wealth increases, what happens with your relationship with God? Does it go deeper and more personal? Or, do you try to improve your religiosity and influence through religious connections? Your connections and relations may increase and bring you more wealth, but gradually you will loose your relationship with God.
Don’t fear, hate, or oppose wealth. Just keep a check on your most prominent relationship: God.
2. Check your pillars
For Israel, pillars could be part of the worship, where they had used Asherah poles from neighboring religions. But pillars could also indicate the large pillars used for the prominent buildings of their dignitaries. Their wealth and power was displayed by building larger and more pillars.
These structures indicated wealth, affluence, and power. This was an opportunity to flaunt their wealth so others can see. They gained satisfaction from this grandiose display of great structures so others can see their greatness.
Wealth was to be used for one’s own purposes and to help others. Flaunting and displaying was never the purpose. These were clear indicators that they were using their wealth in an improper manner.
Don’t fear, hate, or oppose wealth. Just keep a check on your pillars: what do you display?
3. Check your heart
They were guilty of having a heart that is false. Initially, God had given them a “land flowing with milk and honey” so that they can be a blessing to others. They were to be a lifeline to the needy – the widows, orphans, and the destitute.
Their present condition proved that their purpose had moved away from the original plan of God for their prosperity. An internal shift had taken place, showing that their heart moved away from God’s plan. They had a heart that shifted from God’s ways. Thus the Bible says that their heart is false.
Along with enjoying the prosperity that God gives, use what you have to bless others. The danger is that many of us will look at our finances and claim that we are not prosperous. But we need to bless others whatever our financial condition. Make sure your heart stays focused on God’s plan for your life to be a blessing to others.
Don’t fear, hate, or oppose wealth. Just keep a check on your heart.