How often have you heard something like this:
“God wants your best life… now!”
Generally speaking, this idea means that God wants you to be materially wealthy, and if you are, it means you’ve found favor with Him. But if you haven’t… well, you might not be seeking Him enough, or you might have some sin in your life preventing you from attaining His favor. Perhaps God has yet to activate the “success gene” in your DNA, as one gentleman with a big smile in the great nation of Texas has said.
So, dear reader, is this true? Does living your best life mean you are “happy, healthy and wealthy,” and if you’re not then there’s something wrong with your relationship with God?
This idea that God wants all His people to be materially wealthy is pure nonsense. Worse, it’s one of the clearest examples of a damnable false gospel (cf Gal. 1:8) in that it is a blatant attempt to use Jesus as a means to getting an idol (in this case, money).
Now here’s the thing: God does want your best life… but that best life may seem awfully unpleasant at times.
Your Best Life Might be Rough
Have you ever noticed that, as you’ve read through the Bible, there’s a common theme in the lives of God’s people?
Financial prosperity? Living whatever is typically defined as “the good life?” No.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master,” we are told in Matt. 10:24. Jesus suffered brutally. Being far from financially affluent, He was betrayed, denied by His friends, lied about, beaten, flogged, mocked, spit upon, and ultimately crucified on a bloody roman cross, all so that our sins might be forgiven.
So, if Jesus suffered, why would we think that we’d be free of a life of suffering, particularly when we’re told to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
All the apostles knew this well. All but John were martyred—and it wasn’t for lack of trying (they boiled him in oil and he came out unscathed… so he was eventually banished to Patmos). Peter, according to tradition, was crucified upside down, because he considered himself unworthy to share the same fate as his Lord. Paul’s suffering is described in detail all throughout the New Testament. He was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, flogged… He was once stoned so mercilessly that he appeared to have died (cf. Acts 14:19). He got back up and went back to preaching.
Life in Abundance
Jesus tell us that he “came that they [his disciples] may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This verse is one of many that’s been perverted into referring to financial wealth. But to have life abundantly doesn’t mean a life of financial prosperity—it means a life of joy in God.
“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5).
Through trial, God is bringing us joy and making us more like Jesus. Sometimes that means that we’ll have material wealth, but sometimes we won’t. The goal is not to have the biggest pile of cash at the end. (Remember the parable of the rich fool, who had an abundance, and rather than being generous, horded it. In the end, God killed him for because of his covetousness. Read the whole story in Luke 12:13-34.) The goal is to follow Paul’s example, when he says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13, emphasis mine).
That’s the what it truly means to live your best life. May we all seek to live a truly abundant life.