Lately I’ve been rereading the book of Job.
Over the years, this book has both shaken me and shaped me.
Job has served as a corrective lens, revealing my distorted assumptions about the rewards of a virtuous life. Through it, I have learned that my greatest joy lies not in what God gives me, but rather in God Himself. I have seen that God is sovereign over every detail of life and He deserves my worship. In all circumstances. Whether I understand them or not.
The other day, as I was reading Job, I remembered a conversation with a coworker who also loved Job. But he loved it for different reasons. He loved it for the ending which he claimed was the point of the whole book.
In his words, “Job got everything back and more for his suffering. He was blessed with more children and more money than he ever had before. That’s what the book shows us- that doing the right thing brings blessing and prosperity.”
His perspective deeply troubled me. It still does. It is the message of the “health & wealth” gospel – that God wants us to have perfect health, total happiness, and financial gain in this life. All we need to do is ask specifically and live the right way and God will come through.
Ironically, it was the book of Job that had helped reframe my perspective on God’s blessings. I saw that naming what we want and then claiming the victory is not worshipping God. It is idolatry. The focus is not on God but rather on what He can give us. It is elevating God’s gifts above Him, the giver. And that is a great assault on God’s value.
Proponents of the prosperity gospel see things differently. They believe it’s biblical and cite Scripture to back up their claims. One such verse is John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jesus does give us abundant life – but that does not necessarily mean material blessings. Abundant life is independent of circumstances or health or wealth or anything else.
A diagnosis of cancer, a stock market crash, or a child’s rebellion doesn’t diminish the abundant life we have in Christ. And a miraculous healing, a financial windfall, or a prodigal’s return doesn’t transform it either. Abundant life rests in the God who is Lord over the good things and the terrible things in our life. As Job says, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10)Continue Reading