29“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life,” (Mark 10: 29-30).

 

For some ministries, the word “prosperity” has become a four-letter perversion.  Whenever pastors predominantly preach about God’s provisions, many of the pious authorities mock them and label them “prosperity pastors.”  The critics of “prosperity pastors” claim that “prosperity ministries” do not present an accurate representation of the Bible.  The question is, “Is the alternate stance any more accurate?”  If we are not careful, the directive “to pick up your cross” could overshadow everything else that God has said.  If we read the above verse, the Bible asserts that there will be persecution.  However, it ALSO promises prosperity, not just in heaven, but here on Earth as well.  Unfortunately, although the above-quoted verse clearly states one of God’s promise of prosperity, the preceding verses are often misquoted and misrepresented.

 

One of the biggest misrepresentations of Biblical prosperity stems from the story of Jesus and the Rich Man.  In the story of Jesus and the Rich Man, The Rich Man asked Jesus how he could achieve eternal life.  In return, Jesus questioned the Rich Man about whether he knew and upheld the Commandment.  The Rich Man assured Jesus that he did uphold the Commandments.  Jesus then challenged the Rich Man to “’Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me,’” (v. 21, NLT).  The Rich Man went away sad because he had many possessions.  When the disciples questioned Jesus about this interaction, “23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!’ 24This amazed them. But Jesus said again, ‘Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God,’” (v. 27, NLT).  Unfortunately, some have used this verse to assert their position that Christians should some how live in squalor here on Earth. Here is my take on the story of Jesus and the Rich Man.  What if the story of Jesus and the Rich Man was a God-Abraham-Isaac moment?  What if Jesus was trying to make a bigger point?

 

In the early days, family and lineage were significant.  God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.  Abraham waited several years before he experienced the first manifestation of that promise.  After years of infertility, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had a son Isaac.  Abraham finally hit the jackpot, and then, Boom!  The bottom fell out.  God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac—the very promise He had given him.  What would have happened had Abraham said no?  What would have happen had the Rich Man said yes?  We know exactly what would have happened to the Rich Man.  In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus tells us exactly what would have happened: “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life,” (NLT).

 

I don’t believe that it was the Rich Man’s riches that Jesus was highlighting in this story.  I believe that it was his “love of his riches” that Jesus was pointing out.  1Timothy 6:10, yet another verse which is often misquoted, says that the “love of money is the root of all evil.”

 

When Jesus was asked which of the Ten Commandments is the greatest, he replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  40The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments,” (Matthew 22:38-40, NLT).  Oftentimes, Jesus gives us a heart check.  Do we love him, or do we love the things of this world more?

 

I was so inspired when I read this quote this morning.  It reminded me that God is very much aware of the sacrifices that we have made for Him and His Kingdom.  According to the verse above, God will reward us 100 fold for what we have given up.  Maybe, just maybe, sometimes, all we have to do is to be willing to put our riches on the altar.

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