When God de-prospers us


Courtesy: Tim Challies, challies.com

Mightn’t it be true that sometimes God lowers our standard of living to raise the standard of our giving!?

This meme is one where I feel very ambivalent (see original at end of this post). I normally like Tim Challies‘ illustrated quotes. And I understand Alcorn is a solid evangelical. And I know nothing of the context of this thought Challies has featured from Alcorn’s works. [* see below for update.] No doubt he says much that’s good. 

And no doubt the Bible talks about prosperity and plenty at times. And if we prosper, we should be generous.

But still I get nervous about prosperity talk. And I want to push back on this quote.

I am thinking of the widow’s mite, of course, in Mark 12:41-44. 

I am thinking of the Macedonians’ generosity, in 2 Corinthians 8:2, and following.

Just pause a moment and actually look the references up! Their generosity welled up in the context of a severe trial that God willed for them.

I am also thinking of an architect I knew, whose income fluctuated widely depending on business, who always insisted on putting something in the offertory bag even when there was no income (or negative income through continuing business expenses), and was (I believe) still generous when a big job paid off.

We learn dependence on God when our income goes down. We learn to live simply. We are tested to discover whether we can still keep being generous to others.

And conversely I am thinking that sometimes greater riches are a great danger (1 Timothy 6:9)!

Proverbs 30:8-9

…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’…


* UPDATE: A friend supplied this photo from Alcorn’s book for context, under a heading called “When God prospers us, why?” which occurswithin a chapter refuting prosperity theology.

I also appreciate Tim Challies taking the time to comment below graciously and pointing me to the context of the quote. Totally fair enough.

2 thoughts on “When God de-prospers us

  1. Hi, Sandy. I completely agree with what you say here—that God can de-prosper us so we can raise our standard of giving. However, this one-sentence quote comes from a larger context in which Alcorn is describing God’s purpose in prospering (not de-prospering) us. I think the quote stands well in that context.

    • Tim, with the help of a friend, I have updated the original post with the context that you too have so graciously referred to. Many thanks for this comment and for your work in general.

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