By Costi W. Hinn
Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me
to live in luxury. It’s his provision for me to
help others live. God entrusts me with his
money not to build my kingdom on earth,
but to build his kingdom in heaven.
A dear friend of mine has been immensely blessed with the ability to gain wealth. He’s a hard worker, a man of integrity, and everything he touches seems to turn to gold.
Almost whispering, he asked me one time, “Is it okay that I make so much money?” He explained that his employer wanted to give him another raise as a reward for his work ethic and impact on the company. He was considering turning it down because he felt like it was too much money for one person to make. After a brief discussion, it became obvious that his problem wasn’t making too much money; his problem was fear of being labeled as greedy because he was wealthy.
Our conversation provoked a study of the Scriptures to discover what God has to say on the subject. Is God opposed to a Christian making a high salary? What’s wrong with an employer rewarding an employee for doing his job? Should Christians take a vow of poverty and purposely try to suffer? Is poverty God’s will for us?
For all the damage done by the prosperity gospel over the past few decades, the “poverty gospel” has made itself a sinister force too. Some Christians think that deliberately suffering or living below the poverty line makes them more spiritual. They wear their asceticism like a badge of honor, boasting about how little they make their families live on and how hard they make their own lives by doing so. Bragging about not buying shoes (when you can) or using a verse about rich people not getting into heaven to excuse yourself from being a steward is no better than a prosperity preacher living on the other side of the spectrum.
Many Christians have become wary of wealth or hide their questions about money for fear of being labeled a prosperity gospel propagator. I’ve met Christians who are scared to pray for physical healing because people may think they’re in the health-and-wealth-gospel fan club. To this line of thinking, I say two things: (1) We have to relentlessly call the prosperity gospel what it is: evil. (2) We have to maintain biblical balance in our understanding of health and wealth. Remember, God is a Father who cares about the details of our lives (Luke 12:7), and that means his Word has much to say about our physical and material needs. The prosperity gospel fools people by mixing some of God’s truth into their poisonous theological concoction. We cannot start being fearful of biblical teachings on money or healing because a prosperity gospel preacher overemphasizes them. We simply need to keep our biblical balance.
Money tests our hearts like little else on earth. Whether it be the test of poverty or the test of prosperity, money brings out the best and worst in us. Far too often, and I am sure you’d agree, we’re afraid to admit we don’t know as much about managing money as we ought to. Within church circles, it’s even more daunting to face our deficiencies on money management because we’re supposed to be people of the Book with all of the answers rolling off the tips of our tongues. Reality is, everybodyneeds to continuously revisit biblical principles on money and be a lifelong student of financial stewardship.
Probably the most important stewardship principle to remember is this: God owns everything. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10); he owns everything under heaven, for that matter (Job 41:11). The psalmist declares, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1). There is no arguing with the Bible on who owns everything. God does.
The Bible is equally as clear that while God owns everything, wealth isn’t guaranteed for everyone on earth. Jesus told his disciples that the poor would always be with them (John 12:8). We can gather from his words that people are naturally going to struggle financially in this broken world. No wonder Scripture is so adamant that the poor be cared for—they are some of society’s most vulnerable people. Assuming, of course, that they are not poor because they are lazy (the Bible has much to say on laziness, but we’ll have to cover that another time), God cares greatly for those who are in need.
Even though wealth is not guaranteed on earth, God does give the opportunity to gain wealth. You may say, “Nobody gave me wealth—I earned it!” The children of Israel thought the same thing, but Moses reminded them that it was God who was blessing them based solely on his sovereign will. Deuteronomy 8:17–18 says, “You may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” If God has blessed you with wealth, you ought to humbly thank him and realize that you have a great responsibility. Speaking to the rich, John writes, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17–18).
The Bible is hardly silent on what rich people are supposed to do with all that money. Sure, it’s biblical and prudent to leave an inheritance for your children (Prov. 13:22), and it’s good to work hard and save for the future (Prov. 6:6). But you know what the greatest purpose of wealth is? To advance the gospel and do God’s will! Paul told Timothy that rich people are to do this very thing. In a straightforward passage, he says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Tim. 6:17–19).
There you have it. Wealth is not a sin. You’re allowed to enjoy it. But don’t for a second fix your hope on it. It’s a tool for ministry, not materialism.
Jesus offered one of the best investment strategies in the universe when he said to store up treasure in heaven where nothing can destroy it (Matt. 6:19–21). This is done by putting your resources to gospel-centered use.
You can’t take it with you. There will be no U-Haul behind the hearse.
Adapted from God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi W. Hinn. Click hereto learn more about this title.
Millions desperate for hope and solutions are enticed by the promise of the prosperity gospel — that God will do whatever they need with just a little faith and a financial gift. All the while, prosperity preachers exploit the poor and the needy to stockpile their riches. What can followers of the true gospel do to combat the deception?
Through a remarkable and fascinating journey, Costi Hinn went from a next-generation prosperity preacher to the first to abandon the family faith and share the true gospel. Nephew of the world-famous televangelist, Benny Hinn, Costi had a front-row seat to the inner workings and theology of the prosperity gospel. But as Costi’s faith deepened, so did his questions about prosperity teaching. As the deceptions in his past were exposed, Costi came face to face with the hypocrisy and devastation caused by his belief system, and the overwhelming truth about the real Jesus Christ.
This captivating look into the daily lives of one of the world’s leading prosperity dynasties offers a thoughtful perspective on the perils of greed, the power of the true gospel, and hope for the future of the global church. Through real-life stories, Costi challenges and equips readers to be living lights pointing the way to the true gospel and the saving grace of Christ. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel will bolster your faith and encourage your own journey toward the Truth.
Costi W. Hinn is a pastor and author whose passion is to preach the gospel and serve the church. He provides ministry resources on a variety of topics at http://www.forthegospel.org, and his work has been featured on media outlets like CNN, Christianity Today, and ChurchLeaders.com. Costi and his wife have three young children.