Q. I have been wondering how the idea of turning the other cheek would apply to Christians in Iraq, Syria, etc., and the Islamic State. Maybe the difference is that IS wants to kill them. I believe the Bible should apply the same to all Christians everywhere and that is why preaching prosperity doesn’t work. Can you shed some light on this?
A. The current conditions in the Middle East are not typical everyday human interaction. People are fighting for their lives against an enemy sworn to destroy them. I don’t believe it’s reasonable to expect Christians in the Middle East or anywhere else to “turn the other cheek” to such a violent attack on their very existence.
But it’s important for all of us to understand that prosperity as it’s taught in the Bible does work. It works because it’s based on gratitude.
Our gratitude for what the Lord has done for us is what makes us generous. God has unlimited resources and can distribute them as He pleases. The method He has chosen is to proportionally give the most to the people who are most generous (Luke 6:38, 2 Cor. 9:6) because these are the people who are demonstrating the most gratitude. And the Lord’s teaching on the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44) showed it’s not how big our wallet is but how grateful our heart is that matters to Him. The more generous we are toward others the more generous He will be toward us until Paul said we will be made rich in every way so we can be generous on every occasion (2 Cor. 9:11).
Contrast that with the way prosperity is taught, which is based on greed. A prosperity teacher says, “If you want something nice for yourself send some money to me. The Lord will send you back 10 times as much as you send me so you can get what you want for yourself.” It’s giving as a way to get. People who respond are not giving to God with the thought of blessing others out of gratitude for what they’ve received. They’re giving to man with the thought of enriching themselves out of a desire for more.
The “prosperity gospel” is a principle from God that has been twisted to become a tool of the devil.