This is from the Biblical Masculinity Blueprint book, but strikingly relevant to Dalrock’s latest post on the promises of fake Christianity.
One of the common themes that we see throughout the Old Testament is the promise of God that if Abraham and Israel followed His commandments, they would be blessed and prosperous.
It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you (Deuteronomy 11:13–17).
This is where much of the so-called prosperity gospel comes from in first-world Christianity. It is a seductive lie that if you are obedient to God, He will bless you. Some examples of this include:
- If you obey God, you will be happy.
- If you give [money] to God, He will multiply your finances many
- You can name it and claim it or ask God for something, and He
will give it to you.
Certainly, these promises were given in the Old Testament, but what about the New Testament? If you obey God, will you be happy?
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:10–13).
Everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted! God does not promise Christians the fleeting feeling of happiness, which is different from the fruit of the Spirit, peace and joy. Far from it. We should prepare to suffer as Christians for our faith. Even Jesus told us that those who are his disciples will be hated by the world. Yet we are to cling fast to His teachings for salvation. We are to evangelize and make disciples.
What do the scriptures say about generosity?
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. . . . Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God (2 Corinthians 9:6–7, 10–12).
Our generosity multiplies our seed to increase our harvest of righteousness and thanksgiving to God. It does not promise us money or other worldly riches. Rather, we are storing up treasures in heaven.
What do the scriptures say about prosperity?
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31–33).
The context of the above passage is anxiety about basic human needs, such as food, drink, and clothing and not money or worldly riches. Jesus showed a practical application of this in Luke 10 when He sent out the seventy disciples—don’t take a money or a bag or sandals but instead eat whatever food and drink is provided to you.
As humans, we have the tendency to think that God hates us or that we did something wrong if we have problems. The scriptures do not promise that if we obey God, we will be happy, rich, or that He will give us our desires (though He might). The main thing that we are promised is suffering and persecution for choosing to follow Jesus. It is important to remove the expectation that God will make us happy because this can severely cripple our faith if our life circumstances become hard or extremely difficult.
How many Christians and even non-Christians have turned away from God because they faced difficult circumstances? I’m sure many of us can think of several people who have turned away from God in these situations. But we should instead rejoice and give thanks in our hard circumstances because we can be a witness to those around us in the culture and even the church that we are different. Our joy amidst suffering—even in prison (Acts
16) like Peter, Paul, and the other disciples—shows that God has changed us and delivered us. That’s God’s will for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 encourages us, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
All of this is to say that sometimes the battlefield will come to us where we least expect it. Our relationships with our friends, our family, and even in our relationships and marriages can become strained and lead to suffering or even persecution.
This is not a reason to be angry with God, but it is an opportunity for us to witness and show the love of God during the suffering and persecution so that we can win those close to us for Christ. God calls us to do the right thing, and He can win our family, friends, or spouse to Him. But He also doesn’t promise us that He will. We need to take it on faith that He will use our righteous actions to continually work in them.
Like Joseph, David, Job, Paul, and the rest of the disciples, we need to keep in mind that our loyalty is to God and His commandments first, no matter how bad our circumstances around us become. These men suffered and were persecuted even for decades on end. But they stayed faithful, and God mightily used them. The Christian life is hard. Embrace it and don’t become bitter, impatient, or tired. Continually seek God for His help among the hardships that you encounter and put on His peace and joy.
Finally, if you need to complain, remember that complaining always goes up and not down. David pours out his heart to God in the Psalms, which teach us about the difficult times in his life. Any of his complaints, fears, worries are all going to God. They are not going to his wives, children, advisors, or those around him. David is called a man after God’s own heart. Heed his example. Complaining is destructive to those around you. If you
must vent or complain, find some trusted Christian brothers who can lend you an ear and give you godly counsel and encouragement.
This is the resilience that we need to develop as Christians that make us even more fervent for the gospel rather than to turn our backs on God. Marital troubles and divorce are certainly some times where the going gets rough, but God desires our obedience even in the midst of suffering
One of the big things I’ve consistently seen in both real life and here online is that people think that doing the right thing such as obedience to God and follow His marital roles and responsibilities will make their relationships or marriages happier.
Yes, it can often do that as God can use our behavior to change others. However, God does not promise us this. This is one of the big things you should take into account if you do decide to marry even if you vet well: you can have a spouse that totally goes off their rocker. Are you ready to fulfill your promises in marriage to God and them even if they make your life insanely difficult? That is a hard thing to do.
Suffering is the normal for Christians, especially since we are constantly warring against our own flesh and the spiritual battles going on all around us. The hard part to maturity in Christ is to embrace is to being joyful in the midst of suffering.