Prosperity

In Mark chapter 8 we read the story of Jesus feeding the 4000. There were 4000 men present; more counting women and children. Jesus managed to feed this crowd with seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes. After they depart from the region Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees who were seeking a sign. When the Pharisees were gone Jesus says to the disciples:

Mark 8:15 "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."

What reaction do the disciples have? They think Jesus is mad because they had forgotten to bring bread! Jesus was teaching a spiritual lesson, but the disciples were fixed on the world, the physical realm. Look at the conversation that transpired.

Mark 8:16 They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
"Twelve," they replied.
20 "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
They answered, "Seven."
21 He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"

Jesus was not worried about physical food. He was able to provide what their bodies needed. In fact, he already had - twice. He was concerned about their spiritual well being. We can learn a lot from the mistakes the disciples made.

People today teach that God promises that we shall be wealthy, in spite of the fact that the many of the disciples and Jesus Himself were not. Paul said that he had been both rich and poor and learned to be content with whatever position he was in.

Phil 4:11-13 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Still, people cling to certain passages and in them claim that God promises wealth or health. The try to "claim" promises that were never made. These people have made the same mistake the disciples did. They took words the Lord intended spiritually and tried to apply them physically. Look at this passage that is often used to suggest that if you give money away (usually to them and their church) you will become rich.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

People say, see, if we give we will get more! But was Jesus speaking of a physical, financial blessing? No. The passage never implies that he does. A few verses earlier, in this same chapter of Scripture, Jesus says that those who are hated, excluded, insulted and rejected should rejoice and leap for joy. Why? Because their reward would be great. Did he mean, they would get a huge cash bonus? No, he specifically says that their reward would be "great in heaven." He then pronounces a woe to the rich, for they have received their comfort already.

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23 "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

This entire context is teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, not wealth here on earth. We should not make the same mistakes the disciples did. They mistook Jesus words as meaning he was mad over bread, when instead he was trying to warn them against the false teachings of the Pharisees. We, too, should beware of the yeast of false teachers. Let us not follow those who focus on the bread and do not understand the spiritual lessons Jesus was trying to teach to us.

Matt 16:11-12 11 How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.



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