We have to reiterate that God tempered us all together to honor those that lack in the Body – chief of whom are our missionaries. He wants us to give them more abundant comeliness. And to do that He prospers us, especially those of us far removed from troublous zones – for in the swelling of Jordan (Jeremiah 12:56) such as our missionary brethren are, we cannot make as much wealth. God thus supplies more than our needs most times on purpose for the benefit of His church.
We say this on purpose because many could point to Mark 11:24: “Therefore I say unto you; What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them.” With this they sort of justify their wanton acquisition and self-indulgence. First, the context of this scripture is about faith and moving of mountains (v. 22, 23): “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith”; and about the place of forgiveness in answered prayer (v. 25, 26): “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Jesus is not asking us to desire for ourselves the things He has promised to add elsewhere if we seek or desire the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. The Bible is not contradictory in anyway.
Desire’s positive use in Scripture
The word ‘desire’ as positively used in Scriptures is a word that connects the heart with God. It is not lust in that case. Neither is it the desire of the flesh (Ephesians 2:3) that Jesus is referring to in Mark 11: 24, nor is it the desire of the eye (Ecclesiastes 2:10) being encouraged! Jesus is talking of the desire of the heart which is granted when we delight ourselves in the LORD – Psalm 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”. It is the desire that corresponds with the desire of the righteous – Proverbs 10:24: “The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”
The man that delights himself in the Lord (Psalm 34: 4) will use God’s provisions God’s way when God gives him the desires of his heart, and which desires are actually God’s desire for him anyway. A righteous man (Proverbs 34: 24) will also use God’s provisions God’s way when God gives him the desires of his heart, and which desires are actually God’s desire for him anyway. But more than that:
The heart is a realm that desires precisely what God yearns that we desire, chief of this being: The Person of God (Psalm 73:25); the Law of the Lord (Psalm 19:7-10); fellowship in God’s presence (Psalm 27: 4); service and humility (Mark 9: 35); spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14) and such other spiritual things. The heart desires only spiritual things and non-spiritual things that are to be put to real godly or God glorifying purposes or could help the heart’s spiritual state. Any non-spiritual thing that we desire, and such as we already have that is not helping our hearts and standing with God is certainly not what Jesus talks about in Mark 11: 24.
God is not interested in cankered riches: stockpiled wealth, when God’s work and people lack. Yes, ‘the Lord shall supply our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 4: 19. But do you know that the corresponding Scripture is found in Ephesians 1:3? It reads: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. The “riches in glory by Christ Jesus” in Philippians 4:19 is the same as “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” in Ephesians 1: 3. SPIRITUAL BLESSING is the emphasis, and that is what to be sort; and others are to be added!
A near Synonym of ‘Desire’
A near synonym for the word ‘desire’ as intended here (Mark 11:24) by Jesus is also used by David in verses 8 of Psalm 27. The word is ‘seek’! “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to enquire in His temple … When You said ‘seek you my face’ my heart said unto You, ‘Your face LORD, will I seek’ ” – italics are mine. It is the function of the heart to seek God, as in these verses of Scriptures. The flesh and eyes don’t seek God. When they do it is ‘lust’. When the flesh and eyes seek, it is only after those things our Savior says He would add: things He says we should not seek.
Again, ‘desire’ from the standpoint of God means to seek, and seeking is from the heart; and this is what touches God because it places righteous and acceptable demands on Him. The Master Himself said: “seek you first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”. If you ‘seek’ after things He said He would add you may get them by lust and you are consequently likely going to retain them by lust or let go some in pride and unto self-glory. But if they are added (to any point whatsoever) you are very likely going to distribute them with all meekness of heart as an unworthy servant because FREELY you receive and FREELY you give.
Could it even be that we are holding fast to these things and not letting go because they were not actually added? But if they are truly added what means we staying in ceiled houses and piling up treasure where thieves come in to steal and moths come in to eat? My brother, my sister freely we received, freely we should give; for He that freely gave us what is in our position now for very obvious reasons shall one day seek our record. It is mainly in our age we see gospel ministers living sumptuously while many of their flock are living from hand to mouth and sundry mission fields are grossly starved. And we all want to make Heaven. Heaven!
To say it for the umpteenth time, the words ‘desire’ and ‘seek’ connect more to spiritual things in Scriptures. Lust connects more to mundane things. But there is a spiritual sense we are to desire wealth: To be a channel of blessing to God’s work and people. And that is spiritual! And as we do that we have our relative take home because 1Timothy 5:18 told us: “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.” But this must not be in excess of our true needs, else we be counted as those that smite the brethren – Matthew 24: 49. That means we must be faithful channels of distribution ((the subject matter after the next one in this series handles this).
Prosperity, Yes; But for what!
When we get money, property; when we are prospered, it is primarily for the purpose of God: His vineyard, His work and His children. In other words we seek prosperity not for self but for the purpose of God and His coming Kingdom. To seek prosperity thus, or for this purpose, is also to seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness. But to seek great things for ourselves meets with this Bible command: “seek them not” – Jeremiah 45:5.
In John 6:26-27 we read: “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth u
nto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
Are these two verses of Scripture not speaking to us today? Is Christianity all about loaves, filled stomach, dainties and laboring for meat that perishes? Must we acquiesce with this Laodicean tag? Get this writer right: There is nothing wrong with being the richest man around. But for what! That is the big question because God is not interested in raising rich men and even billionaires in the Church except that by them He designs that none lacks in the Church and none (including themselves) have too much or over.
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” – Acts 4:32-35. “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. May these Scriptures still be relevant, valid and remain the compass in our age. This is more so for God is now rounding up His program.
The goal of God is the well-being of the Church and not necessarily of some individuals. Individuals blessed and prospered are a means to achieving His goal: a none-lacking Church. And all that should make the Church a none-lacking Church has been provided by God for His Church, but alas! Not many faithful caretakers! May we come off worldly lust and get into godly desires which results enhances God’s Kingdom purpose and plan. May we be faithful caretakers of all – small and plenty – which God brings our way! It can only be for our own utmost good. Our eternal good!
This Jane C. Bonar’s hymn will always come alive till the rapture:
Fade, fade, each earthly joy, Jesus is mine!
Break every tender tie, Jesus is mine!
Dark is the wilderness, Earth has no resting place,
Jesus alone can bless, Jesus is mine!
Tempt not my soul away, Jesus is mine!
Here would I ever stay, Jesus is mine!
Perishing things of clay, born but for one brief day,
Pass from my heart away, Jesus is mine!
Farewell, ye dreams of night, Jesus is mine!
Lost in this dawning bright, Jesus is mine!
All that my soul has tried left but a dismal void;
Jesus has satisfied, Jesus is mine!
Farewell, mortality, Jesus is mine!
Welcome, eternity, Jesus is mine!
Welcome, oh, loved and blest, welcome sweet scenes of rest,
Welcome, my Savior’s breast, Jesus is mine!