A Prosperity Theology Dilemma: What Does “Living Like a King’s Kid” Really Mean?

by Joe Plemon on August 5, 2011

The original King's Kid served others

Prosperity theology, also known as the “health and wealth” gospel, teaches that the more we give away, the wealthier we become. It seems to me that no matter how this belief system is spun, it boils down to humans devising a wealth formula which obligates God to respond to our actions. Man thus becomes god and God becomes our genie. Not good. I prefer to think of God as Sovereign. After all, He is God…and we are not.

Proponents of prosperity theology will sometimes challenge hearers to “live like a king’s kid” — implying, of course, that God is King and we should expect the king’s children to live the sumptuous life style indicative of such imperial lineage.

One problem…a big one.

Could it be that our health and wealth advocates overlooked just who the original king’s kid was? Because God is King, Jesus is logically the King’s Kid. If we are to live like Jesus, we would do well to pay heed to such passages as Philippians 2:5-8:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Jesus not only gave up his divine privileges, but lived a slave’s existence. He was born in lowly Bethlehem and grew up in a family so poor that they could only afford to sacrifice two doves (instead of the preferred lamb sacrifice) for Mary’s purification offering (Luke 2:22 – 24). Jesus wandered the country side, owning nothing but the clothes on His back. He died penniless — asking his friend John to care for his mother Mary. Jesus was even buried in a borrowed grave. Whatever the prosperity proponents mean by “Live Like a King’s Kid”, they certainly are not thinking of the life Jesus lived.

Am I Saying That All Prosperity Is Bad?

No. God rewarded Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Solomon and Job for their faith in Him. Our God continues to bless His children today, giving many great riches. But God has also warned His children over and over again of how prosperity has a way of turning our hearts from Him. We should therefore strive for the servanthood mentality of Jesus, viewing whatever prosperity God gives us as our opportunity to serve others. In this context, WWJD makes absolute sense.

Wealth and The Gift of Giving

While much of Christendom seeks such spiritual gifts as tongues, healing and prophecy, we seldom hear of believers who are actively seeking the gift of giving described in Romans 12:8: “If it is giving, give generously.” Is it possible that we seek whatever draws attention to ourselves while neglecting a gift which is focused on others? Hmmm. I wonder.

But this I know: if God decides to give someone the gift of giving, He will supply the means for that person to use that gift very generously. It is a very short jump in logic, therefore, to believe that if one has plenty of resources at his disposal, there is a good chance that he already has the spiritual gift of giving. “Wait, Joe! Surely God would also give this person a giving spirit!” I agree. But a giving spirit will lay dormant as long as the one with the resources clings to them. Such a spirit could be cultivated by the very act of giving. Stated differently, the more one gives, the more one wants to give. What am I saying? That if God has prospered you, He has probably given you the gift of generosity. Why else would He prosper you…so you can keep it all for yourself? I don’t think so.

The debate really isn’t about prosperity theology; it is about what a believer does with the resources God has given him. If we have the same attitude that Jesus had, we will be seeking ways to serve others.

This is what living like a King’s Kid is all about.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

joeplemon August 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

Austin — Thanks. I am pretty sure that everyone will not share your enthusiasm — I am bracing myself for some not so nice feedback from the prosperity proponents. We will see. The key for all of us is to do as you say, “steward our finances in a way that glorifies the King.”

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom August 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

Amen! I totally agree. That health, wealth and prosperity gospel is such bunk. It is about as anti-scriptural and anti-Christ as any other new age teaching. It’s ridiculous. Jesus did not come to be served but to SERVE. (Matt 10:28) We are going to suffer for others — if we’re truly believers — and we WILL have it hard on this earth “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

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Dan Grubbs August 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Just found your blog and I’m happy to read this post. I must say that you were speaking the truth in love – deliberate but still tempered. Well done.

Another thought line regarding this “king’s kid” notion is that redeemed people are Christ’s brothers and coheirs. But, I doubt we’re going to measure our “wealth” that is to come in the same way the prosperity gospel folks think about it.

I no longer think it’s perplexing that those who teach error are willing to take passages and even short clauses out of context. The apostle Paul teaches of this, and I certainly believe the prosperity gospel folks are more than willing.

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Mike @ Credit Card Forum Blog August 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

This is a really good post Joe. Isn’t it sad to see how many churches out there teach the prosperity gospel? My roommate goes to one… I went to their Easter Service in 2010 and although I’m sure they have good intentions, I was appalled at the prosperity message they were preaching. From what I recall, the pastor saying saying this blessing and that blessing will happen to you, if you do so and so. Hmm… maybe it will, but all we have to do is look at what happened to the disciples and apostles like Paul to see that there is certainly no guarantee/promise of blessings in this life regardless of how good you are, but there IS promises for the afterlife if we do good in this life.

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Alex Humphrey August 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The other issue I see in the prosperity gospel is it ignores the fact that everyone in America is prosperous (true, it is spreading across Africa and South America, but it’s also fairly prevalent in America).

For instance, even poor Americans have a car, multiple TVs, radios, plenty to eat, a nice sized home, etc. If that’s isn’t prosperity I don’t know what is!

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joeplemon August 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

@Jon — I want to live like the original king’s kid, even if doing so requires suffering and sacrifice (which it will). Obviously, you do too.

@Dan — Yes, with God’s grace, I attempt to speak the truth in love. One sinner to another.

@Mike — I haven’t been to such a church, but I have seen preachers on TV that make me want to scream. As you point out, our reward will be in the next life, NOT this one.

@Alex — According to the site http://www.globalrichlist.com, anyone who makes $10,000 annually is in the top 13% of the world’s population wealthwise. One needs to drop all the way down to $850 annually to reach the 50% plateau. As you point out, Americans are already prosperous. Every one of us. You may want to read my post Am I a Rich Fool? for another perspective on “richness”.

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