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Am I Preaching a ‘Health-and-Wealth’ Gospel?
Because of the great affluence of many western Christians, we have become accustomed to lives of physical and material comfort. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for this customary fact of life to become an expectation that is based in our faith. Do you suspect your thinking and teaching might be susceptible to elements of the “health-and-wealth” gospel? Use this diagnostic to focus your reflections and find out if you preach expectations for health and material comfort that are in tune with scriptural expectations.
These questions should help you have a better awareness of your attitudes and preaching regarding health and wealth. To find out how these attitudes might compare with Scripture, consider Jesus’ call to radical sacrifice, the Lord’s attitude toward riches and poverty, and Paul’s contentment and joy in Christ alone.
- Do I teach that God always wills his people to have perfect physical health?
- Do I believe that suffering is most often a consequence of a person’s specific sins (John 9:2-3)?
- Do I think that fruitless prayers for healing usually indicate sin or lack of faith in a sick person’s life?
- Do I believe that being right with God produces immediate physical as well as spiritual healing (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)?
- Do I teach that God is obligated or constrained to answer expectant and faithful prayers from his children with healing, prosperity and success?
- Do I think that Jesus’ suffering protects and exempts his followers from suffering?
- When counseling sick people, do I usually first try to expose sin in their lives to discover why they are sick?
- Are my prayers or my church’s prayers largely concerned with people’s physical ailments?
- Do I teach that God desires his people to be wealthy and enjoy great material comforts?
- Do I teach that material comfort and riches go hand in hand with obedience to God?
- Do I publicly or privately elevate the spiritual contributions rich congregants bring to my church more than those of poorer congregants (James 2:1-9)?
- Do I implicitly or explicity preach that wealth is always positive, or at least value-neutral, and never dangerous to the spiritual health of the congregation?
- Do I teach that when a giver gives monetarily out of faith, God always will resupply him with an equal or larger amount for his faithfulness?
- Do I teach that poverty among believers is a result of personal sin or weak faith?
- When encountering and ministering to poor people, do I assume their faith is weaker than mine (Matthew 19:23-24)?
For further reading, try our short responses to frequently asked questions on prosperity and poverty, read a testimonial from someone who has repented from subtle attitudes of the health-and-wealth gospel, investigate a few articles or read Gordon Fee’s convicting booklet on the subject.