Contend Earnestly: Practical Prosperity Gospel in Business

Friday, March 12, 2010

Practical Prosperity Gospel in Business

I know that title is a little odd when you read it and probably not sure what I am getting at. Let me give you some background. I have been in the investment business for 11 years now, owned my own business for over 6 years in that time. What is interesting is putting my business knowledge and expectations, let's call it a paradigm, and putting it underneath my knowledge and understanding of God and his glory and wisdom. During this time of owning my business, I come across Christian businessmen all the time. They come from all kinds of backgrounds and churches in our area. Most of those I have met, would tell you that they disagree with the notion of the prosperity gospel. Meaning, God will bless your finances if you have enough faith, or do enough good works for God, depending on who you listen to.

What I have found though is that most businessmen, are practical prosperity folks, thinking that if they follow Jesus that their business will be blessed.

This morning I went to a Christian businessman's breakfast and heard a testimony from a local businessman. He goes to a very conservative, evangelical church in the area. I will say, that I am very grateful to hear his story and to see God's grace in it. He was very transparent and honest about his life, both in its trials and triumphs. But, how he described God's grace and love was very much because of his triumphs in business.

At one point, he said, (paraphrasing) "now that I have turned my life over to Jesus, my business is growing, my debtors have been dropping their cases against me and I am getting business in real estate when everyone else isn't. God is good and gracious"

O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
And a band of violent men have sought my life,
And they have not set You before them.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your handmaid.
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:14-17

Notice that David asks for grace and mercy, because he knows that God is gracious and merciful. But, throughout the Psalms, even when God doesn't rescue David or Israel while going through great tribulations, God is still the same. God's attributes are not hanging on whether or not our lives get blessing from him. The fact is God is merciful, He is compassionate, He is gracious no matter what we are going through and no matter our circumstances.

What seems to be flowing from Christian businessmen is that because they trust in Jesus their business is doing well. What about those who trust in Jesus and their businesses continue to fail? What about those people who are faithful and trust in Jesus and poor? Are we to say that John the Baptist was more successful than Jeremiah because of the fruit we see? Should John the Baptist say that because he trusts in Jesus his ministry was more successful than Jeremiah's? Or is there a chance that God is always faithful and compassionate, even if we can't see it in our finite lives and understanding and uses us according to HIS will?

We need to understand that when we say, "I trust in God and he is compassionate and loving and merciful" and only point to those ways where we are blessed physically, we miss the point and tell others an incomplete gospel. We must be clear with others that God's attributes never change and that we still believe that God is compassionate and gracious, even during (notice I said during, not only afterwards) the trials that we face.

Businesses will fail, businesses will succeed, but God is always great and worthy of worship.

Just because you are a Christian, God doesn't promise you to succeed physically in this life. And this misnomer is exactly why other businessmen don't understand why I don't exclusively send my clients to Christian attorneys, CPAs and Financial Planners. Sometimes, secular businessmen are just more apt for the job.

Show off God no matter your circumstances and know that he is compassionate and merciful, even if you can't feel it physically or spiritually where you are currently at. Know also that your finances are not a barometer for how much God loves you or is displeased with you, but the cross is. Jesus dying on the cross and being risen to life for your sin, shows how much God is merciful and compassionate.


Unknown said...

Well said, Seth.

Josh R said...

I think it is always tricky ground..

I do think that Christian businesses are more likely to succeed long term, if they are run biblicaly.. They should be trustworthy, run with integrity, should be run frugally and prudently -- All of this will yield a more stable and prosperous company long term.

Of course this is true only proverbally, It is a principle not a promise.

But a businessman should be giving credit to God for all that he has. Money can be both a blessing and a curse -- and really any Christian endeavor ought to have a mission behind it that is deeper than an exchange of dollars for goods.

Darlene said...

Excellent reminder. God is good all the time, even when we can't see it, even when we doubt it, even when we are experiencing pain and disappointment.

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