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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




How Rich You Really Are!

By Ken Horn
March 20, 2011

“Prosperity — God wants you to have it.” Have you ever heard that? Well, it’s true. But there are a lot of ways to be prosperous that don’t have anything to do with money. To listen to some preachers, you’d think that all God cared about was the green stuff. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Godly prosperity
It’s undeniable that the Bible speaks about prosperity. But what exactly does that mean?

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, NKJV). This is a verse used (and abused) by some so-called prosperity preachers — those who spend a significant amount of their ministry focusing on accumulating material wealth. But this verse is not as clear-cut as it might seem. The words are primarily a greeting, a godly desire from one Christian to another.

The New International Version of 3 John 2 helps us to see that a little better: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” In other words, “How are you? Hope you’re well.”

Still, it is in the Bible, and it is a good and godly desire. But those who use this verse for health and wealth prosperity usually miss the anchor: “as your soul prospers.” The most important kind of prosperity is spiritual prosperity. Material wealth without soul prosperity is hollow, and the words of preachers who harp on money ring hollow indeed. He who has what he needs is rich.

Jesus addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV). Put spiritual prosperity first, He said, and your needs will be met. And God knows what you need better than you do. Trust Him.

He who has faith is rich. Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness. Faith is better than money in the bank. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV). If you know your future is secure and bountiful, how much richer can you get?

When you are rich in your spirit, though you may lose everything else, that prosperity of soul remains. As strokes and Alzheimer’s increasingly claimed my mother’s memory, her soul prosperity remained. When she could not express herself in English, she would still pray in tongues, demonstrating that her connection to her great benefactor, the Holy Spirit, had not been severed. When confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home, she would reach to touch a fellow resident and say, “I love you.”

I have heard many similar accounts. No tragic disease of any kind can rob a godly individual of their spiritual prosperity.

Spiritual influence
You can also be rich because of spiritual influence — either given or received. I’m rich because of Ray and Barbara Horwege, the first pastors I served with after graduating from Bible college. They poured into my life when I was young and clueless, and thus helped make me, and those I later ministered to, rich in an eternal way.

Now I also feel rich because of a young man I mentor who gives so much back to me.

People make you rich. Relationships shape your life; it can be the shape of bitterness or beauty, prosperity or poverty. You choose.

Thanks for the memories
Some physical possessions make one wealthy in a deeper way than finances — keepsakes that evoke memories of people you love or of cherished experiences. Even when the keepsakes are gone these memories can remain.

But too often we let this form of prosperity elude us as we age and forget. I encourage people to keep a written record of their treasured memories. One of mine is attached to an old snapshot of me with my dad, his face beaming, his gnarled, arthritic hands cradling the 17-pound king salmon that proved to be his last fish before cancer claimed his life. The memory of that day still makes me feel rich.

It was the capper to a father-son relationship that contained many treasured experiences. We spent countless hours together outdoors, and my dad instilled in me a love of God’s creation. An otter navigating a river, an alert mule deer crossing a field, a covey of quail scurrying quickly out of sight — all of these were shared wonders. And they fostered my current love of nature, God’s art, which is a ready source of wealth available freely to all (see Romans 1:20).

Anything that can evoke such memories is a treasure keeping the owner rich.

When those in later life can have only a few possessions around them, the richness of their lives is often found in framed photos — reminders of what and whom they valued in life.

As technology advances, advertising campaigns have increasingly touted more and more expensive gifts for kids. Many now expect more and appreciate less. I cherish my memories far more than any gifts my parents gave me. I didn’t always appreciate these experiences at the time, but I came to realize how privileged I had been.

Most toys and gifts received in my childhood are long gone and forgotten. But I have a wealth of treasured memories of shared moments with godly parents and family members. Parents need to buck the peer pressure and focus on giving their kids gifts that will last — their time and shared experiences.

Self-worth
There is a richness in self-worth. I don’t believe that the chief purpose of man is to feel good about himself, and I realize the need for humility. But I do believe it is important to know how valuable we are to God. That’s what the plan of salvation tells us.

Bestowing this kind of richness (along with spiritual wealth) is what many Christian ministries do.

Project Rescue, for example, ministers physical and spiritual restoration to women and children who have been used and abused in sexual slavery and probably feel beyond any sense that they are of value.

God cherishes every soul equally. John 3:16 tells us that.

Giving
While self-worth can make you rich, paradoxically, so can selflessness. He who loses his life — for the sake of Christ and the gospel — shall find it (Matthew 16:25). “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Giving your life to serve others can be one of the richest of all experiences.

You also become rich by giving materially. God’s law of the harvest is found in the words of Jesus: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:38).

When we give, we know we will receive; we just don’t know what the currency will be. You may reap things infinitely more valuable than you give.

In the 19th century, Andrew Carnegie reputedly became the richest man in the world, accumulating his fortune in the U.S. steel industry. Carnegie said, “The man who dies rich dies disgraced,” and in his lifetime gave away $350 million to efforts that helped others help themselves.

Such giving is still occurring today. Recently, 17 billionaires have signed The Giving Pledge to give away significant portions of their fortunes to charity.

Giving should be a lifestyle for all Christians regardless of their material possessions or station in life. Those who have little financial resources often give in a currency of greater and longer-lasting value — like their time, concern or practical help. Every Christian can love, and when he or she does, the results last. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Financially rich Christians may seem few and far between. Jesus said it was difficult, but not impossible, “for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). Though many would find it difficult to be rich and serve Jesus fully at the same time, God has used a remnant of the faithful wealthy from New Testament times to the present.

Brothers Arthur and Lewis Tappan are two examples. Highly successful merchants in the 19th century, they loved the Lord more than their money. They aimed to inject Christ’s principles into the marketplace. So they put their money where their mouths were — selling goods at a low profit margin and treating their customers like kings. These principles resulted in immense wealth for the Tappans, which they faithfully turned to the Lord’s work — on an unprecedented level.

There are examples of this today as well. Most of us wouldn’t handle being financially rich very well, but that’s OK. By the world’s standards, most of us in America are rich. We must be faithful stewards of what we have been given.

Perhaps you felt poor when you first started reading this article. I hope by now you realize just how rich you really are.


KEN HORN is editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.