At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.”Proverbs 22:4
However easy it is to dunk on health and wealth preachers, and it is easy, and however necessary it is to dunk on them, and it is necessary, we still need to confess, at the end of the day, that they do have a lot of verses. This is one of them.
One of the consequences of living in humility and in the fear of the Lord is what? Riches would be one thing. Honor is another. The third is life. This is clearly and plainly the way to go. This is not a vending machine promise, where you put your quarters in and always get your product. Rather it is a proverb, and this means we are talking about something that is generally true.
Answering the h&w line must not consist of simply ignoring the existence of such passages, or by ignoring the prima facie meaning. We must rather take them at face value and place them in the context of other passages that contradict the simplistic and absolutist approach of the health and wealth guys. In other words, to take one example, we do know that Paul had the gift of healing (Acts 28:8), but he left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20). As Paul was going out the door, can’t you just imagine Trophimus yelling after him, “Hey!”?
A good balance on this entire subject is struck by the great Puritan writer, Richard Sibbes.
“We must know it is not simply the world that draws our hearts from God, but the love of the world. Worldly things are good in themselves and are given by God to sweeten our passage to heaven. It is your falseness that makes them hurtful, in loving them too much. Use the world as a servant and not as a master, and you will have comfort in this life. It is not the world properly used that hurts us, but our setting our hearts upon it. When God should be in our thoughts, our spirits are drunk with the cares below. Thorns will not prick by themselves, but when they are grasped in a man’s hand they prick deep. So this world and the things of the world are all good, and were all made by God for the benefit of his people”