In another article (156) we began to look into Jesus' teaching concerning money. We said that He made the claim that money is the primary competitor-god. And we said that since it is a pseudo-god, it usually is surrounded by god talk. Such things as, the Lord has really blessed me, a comment which usually follows the reception of a significant amount of material prosperity. Then we asked the question: Is material abundance a blessing?
Part of our answer was: It could be a curse. If we misuse material prosperity, our misuse will only bring judgment. But, on the other hand, it can actually be a significant blessing. God grants material blessing so that we can increase our eternal reward. Of course, for that to happen, we have to know what God intends for us to do with that material blessing.
Most people think that money and material prosperity is theirs--to do with what they choose. But the Scriptures say that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. That means that all that we are and have are stewardships from God, not blank-check grants. This means that we are accountable for our use of His provision. An increase in material prosperity is not a sign of God's pleasure, but it is an opportunity to lay up more treasure in the real sphere of our existence: eternity.
Let me see if I can illustrate what I am trying to say. Suppose a family has an income of $500 dollars a month. Let's say that, where they live, this is just enough to keep a roof over their heads, put groceries on the table, invest some in the progress of the Gospel, and lay aside a little for future contingencies. But, let's suppose that this family decides that they really want to buy a monthly subscription to cable TV so they can be entertained with the questionable stuff coming out of Hollywood. Most of us would say that this would be a foolish use of very limited resources. But, let's say that the same family suddenly has a monthly income of $2500. Most of us wouldn't blink an eye at the monthly cable TV bill with that kind of monthly income. However, with God, a waste of resources when we have little doesn't suddenly become good stewardship when we have much. Instead, He claims that if we are faithful when we have little, He will give more; not so we can become wasteful and self-indulgent, but so that we can increase our reward for faithfulness.
So, material prosperity can be a blessing if we have a steward's mentality, but it is most certainly a curse if we have a self-indulgent mentality. Not too long ago someone wrote a book asking the question, Would Jesus wear a Rollex? The biblical answer isn't concerned with whether He would wear one, but whether He would buy one for Himself. If, as an act of worship, someone bought the most expensive watch he could find and gave it to Jesus, you can bet your bottom dollar He would wear it--to honor the loving worship of the giver. But, by the same token, Jesus would never spend money on a Rollex for Himself because all a watch is for is to tell time. A good steward never uses money to enhance his prestige when all he needs is to tell what time it is.