The Health and Wealth Cancer
There is an image people have of a shepherd in a quiet place looking
out over his flock of sheep. The setting is serene and tranquil.
The reality of a shepherd’s life is dramatically different from the
tranquil setting most people have in their minds. The reality is that a
shepherd is out in the wind, rain, snow, freezing cold and blistering
heat. The reality is that sheep get themselves caught in stickers, in
mud, in water that traps them and from which they cannot escape, and
numerous other scrapes over which they have no control. Sheep are
totally defenseless and have no way of protecting themselves, so it is
the job of the shepherd to fight off predators. When a young lamb is
attacked, the ewe (or mother), has no way of protecting the lamb. In
Jesus' time, the shepherd carried a rod or club to fight off wolves and
other predators. Shepherds also carried a staff to pull sheep out of
dangerous places. Today, predators want to devour your spiritual life.
These predators want to rob you of the love of God. In this essay, we
expose one of the most dangerous predators you face.
In The Garden Of Gethsemane
The garden of Gethsemane is filled with Olive Trees. This is why it
is called the Mount of Olives. Today, as it was in Jesus time, you will
find wild flowers growing there. It is much today like it was 2000 years
ago. The trees in the garden today are descendants of the trees that
grew there when Jesus went to the garden to pray after the Last Supper.
Mark 14:32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to
his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33 He took Peter,
James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and
troubled. 34 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of
death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." 35
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if
possible the hour might pass from him. 36"Abba, Father," he
said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet
not what I will, but what you will." (Father, not my will, but
thine be done.) 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them
sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you
will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is
weak." 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When
he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were
heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third
time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!
The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of
sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" (NIV)
Luke 22:39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his
disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them,
"Pray that you will not fall into temptation." 41He withdrew
about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my
will, but yours be done." 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him
and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly,
and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (NIV)
Present Day Realities
Employers, whether they are non-profit agencies or for profit
companies face a common difficulty with employees in today's workplace.
The problem is not in finding people who know how to do their job. The
biggest problem today is with people who do not know how to handle
themselves or how to handle their life. On our jobs, or in our
vocations, we are supposed to be responsible. In some professions people
are not only responsible for their own lives…they are also responsible
for the lives of others. However, people who are not responsible do not
put their lives before the lives of others.
Men and women who are not responsible will drink on the job because
they are thirsty for a drink of alcohol. These persons have their needs
and their wants, so caring not for others, they drink. Men and women who
are not responsible do not show up on time or are late for work. These
persons have no regard or concern for the investment of time, money, and
effort by the management of the company or agency. Irresponsible
employees have no regard or concern for the people who are paying their
wages. The only concern irresponsible men and women have is for
themselves and what they think they want and need.
People who are not responsible persons ignore situations that need
attention, and sometimes openly ignore people who need attention.
A Growing Cancer
There is today a cancer growing in the body of the church that is
making Christian and non-Christian people irresponsible. This cancer is
called health and wealth theology. This cancer in the faith threatens
your spiritual life. This cancer is also eroding the moral character of
our nation and our world.
What Health And Wealth Theology Tries To Do
This theology tries to focus your attention away from the
requirements and sweat required by your godly employer in heaven. This
theology tries to focus your attention away from the lives and struggles
of others. This theology tries to focus your attention in areas that do
not deal with the time, investment, and sacrifice by Christ. This
theology tries focus your attention upon yourself at the expense of the
other persons in your world.
Here Is The Danger
Any theology that tells you directly or indirectly, by omission or
commission, that you are so important that you come before others is
heresy. Any theology that tells you directly or indirectly by commission
or omission that you can care about yourself first, before you care
about others is contrary to the teachings of Christ. Any teaching that
tells you directly or indirectly by omission or commission that you can
put your own wants before the wants of others is anti-God.
This theology is the health and wealth theology. The health and
wealth theology cancer is like a cancer. The health and wealth theology
is sneaky, underhanded, and devious.
What You Are Told And Not Told
Note the devious nature of this cancerous teaching. This theology
does not tell you to ignore others it just does not tell you to put
others first. This theology does not tell you to ignore God’s
requirements of sacrifice and perseverance that God demands of His
servants, the teaching just does not tell you that you have to sweat and
sacrifice as a servant. This theology does not tell you to ignore
others; it just does not tell you to put others’ lives and their
struggles before your own. This theology does not tell you to meditate
and pray about the investment and sacrifice of Christ, it just does not
remind you to put these things first in your heart. This theology does
not tell you to ignore others around you. Instead, you are encouraged to
focus only upon yourself.
Our downfall as Christians, in the eyes of God, comes not so much
when we come up short in serving others. Our downfall comes when we
forget others because we are focusing only on what we want and need for
ourselves. Being responsible in the faith is just as mandatory as being
responsible on our job, in our family life, or anywhere else our journey
through life outside of our faith takes us.
The Root Of Fear, Frustration, Anxiety, And Dependence
Our fears, our anxieties, our frustrations, our weaknesses and our
dependencies inside and outside our faith all come from putting
ourselves first. This statement is so important it that is repeated
here. Our fears, our anxieties, our frustrations, our weaknesses and
our dependencies inside and outside our faith all come from putting
Stated another way, putting yourself first causes you to experience
fear, anxiety, frustration, weakness, and/or dependence. Taking care of
number one is a survival instinct. It is natural. Fear is natural,
normal and God put fear in us to serve as a survival mechanism. As a
Christian, we are supposed to act in spite of our fear. Acting in spite
of our fear is called courage. After the Last Supper, we find Jesus
alone in the garden. His fear and anxiety are so great the fear and
anxiety caused Him to perspire or sweat blood. Jesus' words represent
our own battles. Jesus said, "Not my will, but thine be done".
All of us are torn (or should be torn) between doing our will and doing
the will of our Father in heaven. Our natural fear tears us away from
God. This natural fear of what was ahead of Christ is why Jesus was
praying. Jesus wanted to be near His father in Heaven. In His humanity,
Jesus did not want to go to the Cross. This is what is meant by Jesus
statement "Not my will, but thine be done". An angel did not
come to take away the Lord's fear but to strengthen Him.
Even when Jesus spoke the words ""Abba,
Father," he said, "everything is possible for you." Even
these words (which are so popular with the deceivers in health and
wealth theology) spoken by Jesus, did not rescue Jesus from the Cross.
Health and wealth theology sounds great, it tastes great, and it
looks great. The health and wealth people will tell you "everything
is possible with God" and the implication is you can have it.
Whatever you want, it will be easy, fun, quick, free, new and improved.
You can have the very latest…
Health and wealth theology sells books that people want to read. It
keeps them buying more books and it keeps the pews full of people who
give money because they want to hear more about being healthy and
wealthy. This theology gets higher television ratings because people
want to hear this kind of message. This teaching has seeped into every
part of the Christian faith in the civilized world.
What Health And Wealth Theology Will Tell You
Health and wealth theology will tell you that you can have what you
want. However, there is a problem in having what you want. No
responsible parent is going to tell a child you can always have what you
want. As a child of God, and as a member of the Lord's flock, you should
not be told you can have what you want in Jesus name. The focus of your
faith must never be on what you can get but upon what you can give.
What We Should Tell Our Children And What You Should Be Told
These truths are what we should tell our children: You will not
always get what you want and need in life so get used to it. Not getting
what you want is a part of life. Learn to live without. When you learn
to live without you learn to really live and appreciate all God has to
These truths are what we should say to our children to enable them to
live a happy and abundant life. We should say these things because they
are true. It is the height of immature and immoral behavior to tell
people if you want it you can name it and claim it in the name of Jesus.
This kind of candy is being put into the mouths of Christian believers
because this is what believers want to hear.
The End Result
The result in the believer is no courage, no backbone, no servanthood
to others or Christ, no humility, no contrition, no love for others, and
no real cleansing love from Christ. In our faith, we are to be
responsible for the people around us. Health and wealth theology ends up
making people afraid, fearful, and even terrified because health and
wealth focuses our attention not upon others but upon ourselves. We
cannot have all the health and wealth we want in life, but Christ’s
love is enough to get us through. Health and wealth theology is like
telling a football player or a basketball player you never have to
practice, you never have to work, you never have to sweat. All you have
to do is show up on the day of the game and you can be a star.
Health And Wealth Destroys Courage
We are plagued with fear about all kinds of things because we
naturally put ourselves first. Our survival instinct puts us first. It
was Christ' own survival instinct that caused Him so much distress in
the hours before going to the Cross. However, Christ sacrificed His life
for us anyway. When the early church followed Christ's example the
members were attacked and persecuted. People have sacrificed lives and
fortunes for the last 2000 years to follow Christ. As Christians, we
have a choice or choices about who we put first. We can choose to put
Christ first, and then others first before ourselves. Putting Christ
first means that our wants and needs are small in comparison to what
Christ wants for our lives. If we truly stand in the shadow of the
Cross, then our wants, our needs, our desires, and our pleasures do not
What We Do Not Want To Hear
When we put Christ first, we put our self in His hands. When we put
all of our life in His hands, we essentially do not exist any more.
People today do not want to hear, "NO PAIN, NO GAIN" when it
comes to their life or their faith. People do not want to hear that you
have to sweat and work out in life and in the Christian faith. People do
not want to hear that you cannot have anything you want in the name of
Jesus. People do not want to hear that faith is sometimes weak. People
do not want to hear that even Jesus sweat blood in the garden before the
Roman soldiers came to take him to be flogged, beaten, and crucified.
What We Want To Hear
In our health and wealth world, we want to be told you can have it
all…you deserve it all…go ahead and take it all. We want to hear
that it is quick…it is simple…it is easy…it is fun and profitable.
People want to hear that you don’t have to wait…you don’t have to
hold back…you don’t have to sweat…you don't have to work hard…if
you need it, charge it…don’t wait till you really have the money…you
can have it all now….charge it.
This is advertising hype. The pervasive cancer of health and wealth
theology has taken a few Bible verses to go with the hype. Brothers and
sisters in the faith have come to believe the hype and have applied it
to their lives and faith. Health and wealth theology has taken Bible
truth and twisted this truth into meaning, "All you have to do is
believe", or "Believe in the name of Jesus and you can have
what you want, you can be healed, all your problems will go away, you
will have money come to you, you will be prosperous."
We must all be careful about being drawn into this kind of thinking.
None of us is immune because we live in this kind of health and wealth
Col. David Hackwork in a recent article noted that the selfish health
and wealth idea that says you do not really have to sweat and put out
has even infected our military. In the military today, the drill
instructor is no longer the drill instructor. Now the D.I. is a
counselor, a therapist, and an understanding father figure. The D.I.
permits, in a permissive atmosphere, whining, complaining, and the
making of excuses. All of this has accumulated to the detriment of the
physical lives of the recruits who will not know how to sacrifice as is
required in battle. Not only have the lives of these recruits been put
in jeopardy but your life, your national and personal security has also
been compromised. The "Whatever you want you can have" idea
has seeped into college athletics. It is common today to see college
athletes talk back to the coach. The health and wealth theology has
seeped into our faith, taken a handful of verses out of the Bible, and
is eating away at us like a cancer.
In the faith, in our society, and in the world, everything may look
good on the outside. However, the cancer cells are spreading like wild
fire on the inside. Everything can look healthy on the outside but a
horrible disease has overtaken the body of Christ and a cleansing awaits
The Easy Way Leads To Fear
When we want the easy way, the result is fear. Fear is natural. Fear
is real. Courage is the ability of a human being to act even though
afraid. Courage is the ability to stare fear in the face and act even if
we are terrified of what is in front of us. Courage is lacking in the
faith today. Fear or anxiety to our health and wealth believers is
something that must be eradicated. To health and wealth believers,
courage is not necessary because if you name it and claim it, all your
fear will be gone. This is false doctrine. According to this doctrine,
the only reason Jesus was so overcome with distress in the Garden was
because He did not name it and claim it. We want to hear that there is
an easy way to make the fear go away. Unfortunately, there is no easy
way to facing fear. There is no easy way of evaporating our anxieties
and doubts. The hard way, the only way, of making our fear go away is to
have courage during the battle and to face that which terrifies us. The
early martyrs must surely have been afraid but they believed that their
bodies were only transitory houses in which their eternal souls resided.
To find the courage they needed and we need, they did and we must always
go to the Cross.
John 19:25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's
sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw
his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he
said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27and to
the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this
disciple took her into his home. 28Later, knowing that all was now
completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said,
"I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they
soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant,
and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus
said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave
up his spirit. (NIV)
At the Cross, we find courage and we find our problems melt away
because when we join the three Mary's, we lose our selves. When we lose
our selves, we have no need for health or wealth, except that which He
needs for us so we can do His splendid will.