I have certainly been the beneficiary of multitudes of blessings: I was born and live in the USA with freedom and prosperity; I have had mostly great health for nearly 60 years; I have a wonderful wife and family.
But how much of this did God owe me? None of it.
The problem is that Christians are often taught to expect all this from God, and more. If we have physical challenges, we are taught by some to expect healing every time. If we are blessed with influence, we expect more influence. If we have $100, we expect $1,000. If $1,000, we expect $10,000. If we have $10,000 we want $20,000.
Some try to justify from Scripture the idea that God owes us these things. Preachers, authors and Christian media celebrities promise:
- We should have perpetual health, wealth and prosperity
- We can “name and claim” whatever we want (or blab and grab it)
- Abundant happiness and ease
The problem is that this is a distortion of Scripture.
The fact is that many of the greatest saints have suffered immensely:
- Jesus Himself died the most horrific death possible when He bore our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24)
- The Disciples—all except John died martyrs’ deaths according to church history
- The Apostle Paul suffered repeatedly just for sharing the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)
- Today’s persecuted saints are harassed, beaten, tortured, beheaded, etc.
Did God owe them a “good life” of “health, wealth and prosperity” as expected by “prosperity teachers?” If so, He certainly owes them a big apology.
No, God doesn’t owe us anything except the blessings He has indeed promised, such as:
- His unfailing love (John 6:37)
- Knowing that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13)
- The assurance that while all else can be lost, our salvation cannot be taken away (John 10:28)
- Knowing that no matter what we go through, it will “work together for good.” (Romans 8:28)
Am I suggesting that Christians cannot or should not be blessed with:
But here is the critical difference: God doesn’t OWE us these blessings. If we receive them, that’s great. But we shouldn’t expect them.
I am sure this is a disappointment for those who want to believe that they can have it all right now. But it shouldn’t be.
Why? Because now is temporary and meaningless compared to eternity—we don’t own anything for long anyway:
- Health will decline as we age and eventually be lost entirely when we die
- Influence will usually decline as we age and will be lost when we die
- Wealth will all be left behind
As Solomon, the richest man who ever lived exclaimed in Ecclesiastes 12:8 (GW) “Everything is pointless!”
His book of Ecclesiastes is full of such warnings—its theme is that nothing of this world is worth counting on.
A rather dour message.
But his conclusion in the last two verses of Ecclesiastes is wonderfully profound:
“After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone. God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 GW)
For more help in this area, see my articles on:
- How to Handle the Death of a Loved One and Other Losses
- My Classmate Bart Ehrman’s Hopeless Response to Suffering
- Three Trees That Explain Suffering