I am reading a book which turns everything on its head. Basically, it is interpreting Psalm 73. The essence is that wealth is not a divine blessing but a divine curse. Affliction, difficulty, sickness, lack of money, credit crunches, family troubles and job troubles are the divine blessing. Certainly the Bible teaches that money, pleasures, ease and power lead to the slippery slope of decadence, the deadening of one's sense of neediness, dependence on God, spiritual "antennae". One loses one's sense of connection with the wider world. Pleasures, comfort and ease not only detach us from our neighbours but from ourselves. They deaden us to our duties towards people. This is the very opposite of the messages we receive everyday! Ask yourself if it is true. People say, "I was happy before, we got rich as it pulled everything apart". "He married me for my money". "The family fell apart squabbling over their inheritance". If you look at people with lots of money, which brings power, ask yourself: do they act and talk as if they are really healthy and blessed? This is because real blessing (knowing God) is not to be found in anything that money can buy.
One more thing: this book asks the question "What do you want to go to Heaven for?" The right answer theologically is to be with God and "to enjoy Him forever"(Westminster Confession). But many believers actually want to go to Heaven for the side benefits: ease, lack of pain, to meet relatives. There is only one reason on God's agenda for us to go to heaven: to meet with Him, face to face, to know Him. Check it out?
- The book is "Prosperous Wicked and Plagued Saints: An Exposition of Psalm 73" by David Engelsma (Reformed Free Publishing Association, Michigan)