Posted by: Mark | July 23, 2010

Lessons from Job IV

This is a series and the first post is here.

Lessons from Job for when we go through trial

4. Suffering is not always a consequence of sin – the health/wealth gospel does not hold

There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area Job 1.1-3

When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice. Job 1.5

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Job 1.8

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” Job 2.3

I grew up in what I would describe as a reformed conservative church. The health/wealth gospel was not taught from the pulpit. However, on reflection, I would say that in many people, including myself, there was an inbuilt attitude that God blesses (with wealth) those who follow Him and punishes (by removing wealth) those who follow their own desires.

Since moving to Asia I have found that the health/wealth gospel is alive and well and taught in respectable churches. I have heard pastors in this country state categorically that if your business is not doing well you need to trust God more and repent from your sins and he will bless your business with success.

Lets state it so it cannot be misunderstood. The teaching that our financial prosperity and our relationship with God are tied together is not biblical and is not of God. Click here to watch a short video on John Piper’s view on this teaching.

It does not hold up logically. When you look down the Forbes list of richest people how far down do you have to go before you come across a faithful, biblical, holy Christian.

It does not hold up biblically. I have heard verses quoted that God blesses those who love him (Psalm 115.13 among others) and been shocked at how wise pastor immediately have jumped in their teaching to assume that this means financial prosperity. Paul, arguably the most famous apostle, knew what it was like to prosper but also to have nothing (Phil 4.12). He also died a prisoner in Rome. Are we to then map his spirituality to his prosperity? At the end of his life when he was in prison writing some of his epistles was he far from God? Ten of the eleven faithful disciples were, according to tradition, killed by the state when they were relatively young. Can we therefore conclude they were spiritually dead at the end of their life? Was Job unholy when God removed all his belongings and family? We can see categorically that he was the opposite of unholy and was in fact someone God trusted to love Him no matter what satan done.

The bible does not promise financial success if we follow God. In actual fact it seems to teach that as Christians we will suffer if we walk with God (2 Tim 3.12). The bible teaches that as Christians we are not to seek treasure here on earth but we are to seek and store and save treasure in heaven (Matthew 6.19-21) which can’t be bought with earthly money. We learn from the bible that real blessing is not found in money but in knowing Christ and doing his work (John 15.4-12 ).

When we are suffering lets not assume that if we swear to God that we will be good people, study our bibles, pray to Him every day and just generally tidy up our lives that the suffering will go away. It might go away but it might not. If we are trying to love and worship God so that we can get more possessions and less suffering we are not loving and worshiping God. To love and worship God is to want Him to be in our lives because we love the pleasure that knowing and loving Him brings to our lives. Lets drop from our minds, theology and life practice the idea that loving God is a precursor to success in the here and now. Lets instead seek to know God so deeply and intimately and to find so much pleasure in knowing Him that no matter what comes into our lives we can say:

Though he slay me I will hope in Him Job 13.15a

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Responses

  1. I learned the hard way that the prosperity gospel was false. I am so glad that I hung in there when everything I had trusted in was wiped out.

    My faith in God is stronger and sweeter than ever since I learned to seek God’s face and not His hand.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Praise God that He has brought you through this time in your life to a point where you know and love Him more. It is so true that when our joy is based on an unchanging God we get to know the true meaning of joy. Praise to our wonderful, beautiful God.

  3. […] Suffering is not always a consequence of sin – the health/wealth gospel does not hold […]


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