One of the most disheartening aspects of the prosperity ‘gospel’ is that it makes little of God. Instead of being an almighty, perfect, satisfying, joy-giving and loving Father, it simply turns God into a cosmic Santa Clause. If we do ‘good’ (by having faith or claiming it) then he will give us what we want, but if we don’t have faith, we lose out on riches and health. It centers our joy on material blessing instead of on Christ himself. The radical nature of the gospel is that even if we don’t have anything this life has to offer, we are still satisfied in Christ. I think Habakkuk 3:17-18 sum it up well:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk is saying even if he doesn’t have food and drink, the necessities of life, he will still rejoice in God. Why? Because he recognizes that God is his true joy. To have communion with God is sufficient, even if one has nothing else in this life!
While we may outright reject the teaching of the prosperity gospel, we still have to be careful that our heart isn’t drawn to a ‘softer’ version of it. We can easily go through the motions of Christianity and fulfill our checklist of duties out of a desire for some blessing rather than worship of God. Even something as good as worshipping God can be tainted by our selfishness.
Satan’s Accusation of Job
In Revelation 12:10, Satan is referred to as the accuser of the brethren who “accuses them day and night before our God,” and that’s exactly what he’s doing in Job 1. After the Lord asked Satan if he had considered Job, Satan replies:
“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).
Essentially, Satan claims that all of Job’s worship springs from selfish motivation rather than love for God. He claims that it’s easy for Job to be faithful when God has protected him and blessed all the works of his hands. If God were to remove these blessings, then Job would stop worshipping God. But, as we see in the rest of the book, everything is taken from Job yet he continued to worship.
We’ve all heard the famous response of Job in verse 21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” One of the reasons this phrase is so meaningful is because it comes from the heart of a man who just lost everything. His possessions are gone, and all ten of his children are dead, which certainly led to much grieving. Even in the midst of deep sorrow and eyes filled with tears, Job confessed that the Lord is still worthy of worship.
Why Do You Worship?
Why do you worship God? Is it to gain more temporal blessings? Is it out of hope for an easier life? The Lord can certainly bless us in those ways, and it’s not necessarily wrong that we should desire them. However, the ultimate motivation of our worship should not be based on our circumstances, but rather a heart that recognizes God’s infinite worth. If we only ‘worship’ God to get something from him, then perhaps we are not worshipping God at all but simply using him to get what we truly want. Church attendance, bible study, and prayer become dues that we pay to guarantee the blessing we desire, and God becomes a means rather than an end. But, when we see His beauty, grace, love, mercy, justice, and righteousness, we recognize that He’s always worthy of the worship of every creature…no matter what’s going on in our life.
Satan was proven wrong about Job. Even after losing everything, Job showed his love for the Lord was authentic and not simply a means to something else. What about you? Why do you worship?