The media has been saturated with how some well-known teachers only teach about a life of prosperity as children of God. John Piper calls it a formula that these teachers create for their listeners that include how fasting, praying and tithing will allow you to gain the prosperity hoped for. However, what these teachers are missing is not only that tithing, fasting and praying should never be used as merely a way to gain materialistic wealth, but a way to gain spiritual wealth. Yes, God shall supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Yes, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to us (Matthew 6:33). Yes, if we honor God with our first-fruits, our barns (bank accounts) will be filled with plenty (Proverbs 3:10). All of these scriptures are promises for us because we are children of God. However, worldly gain cannot be our basis for serving the Lord. Our true foundation for being in a relationship with God comes from our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross and everything else that comes with being a child of God is incredible but means nothing if we don’t love God first.
“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” (Philippians 3:8-9 MSG)
Our faith and love in Him causes us to pray, tithe, love our neighbors, fast, and rejoice while we suffer (Philippians 4:4). God does not promise prosperity every moment in our lives, this life comes with guaranteed trials, tribulations- moments we almost throw in the towel (John 16:33). But the joy, unspeakable joy (Psalm 30:5), that we gain as believers in the only true and living God makes everything else inferior.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
Whether in need or with plenty, we rejoice in every situation because of the strength we have in Christ (Philippians 4:12-13), what was done on the cross and the eternity we get to spend with Him when this life is over. This is the ultimate gain.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
Therefore, it is important for our love for God to be center of our lives similar to a nucleus in a cell. Google’s dictionary defines the nucleus as, “The central and most important part of an object, movement or group, forming a basis for activity and growth.” Malfunction of the nucleus causes several conditions, diseases and disorders and without a nucleus at all, cells would literally fall apart. Likewise, if we put our relationship with God on the back burner or disregard it totally to indulge in the fleeting pleasures of this world, we fall victim to spiritual ailments such as pride, disobedience, unforgiveness, lack of self-control, ungratefulness, and hate (2 Timothy 3:2). Having an intact nucleus allows the nuclear membrane to function, making it impermeable to large objects. When God is our nucleus things won’t permeate us as easily. Anxiety, fear, doubt will just roll off our backs like water on a whale.
When we continuously keep God as our nucleus, by feasting on His word, praying, etc., idolizing worldly possessions become less and less satisfying. Long story short, when we put anything or anyone in control of our lives that is not God, it is just a matter of time before we fall apart.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. (Matthew 5:13 MSG)