“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26a).
At the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is self-denial. At the very heart of the prosperity gospel is the belief that God owes you something. People who believe the false gospel of prosperity of course do not see it that way. They believe that they are only “claiming” the blessing God has for them. But that kind of claim is to tell God what you want him to give you, and the basis of the belief is that God will give you what you are claiming. This makes God out to be obligated to give you something.
Let me tell you something, God cannot be bought and God cannot be played.
To serve Christ is to deny yourself. A big part of self-denial is to not expect anything in return for your service to God. We receive our salvation with joy because this is the goal of our faith: to receive eternal life. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life has nothing to do with the material things of this world. If it has anything to do with this world at all it is only to know God more and more in this life we live and to bring glory to his holy name. It has nothing to do with earthly possessions, for everything on this earth is destined to be destroyed. But our treasure is in heaven.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no mother destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:32-34).