The American who gained all vs. the Chinese who lost all

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In America, a sharp-looking businessman stands up at a luncheon to give his testimony: “Before I knew Christ, I had nothing. My business was in bankruptcy, my health was ruined, I’d lost the respect of the community, and I’d almost lost my family. Then I accepted Christ. He took me out of bankruptcy and now my business has tripled its profits. My blood pressure has dropped to normal and I feel better than I’ve felt in years. Best of all, my wife and children have come back, and we’re a family again. God is good – praise the Lord!”

In China, a disheveled former university professor gives his testimony: “Before I met Christ, I had everything. I made a large salary, lived in a nice house, enjoyed good health, was highly respected for my credentials and profession, and had a good marriage and a beautiful son. Then I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. As a result, I lost my post at the university, lost my beautiful house and car, and spent five years in prison. Now I work for a subsistence wage at a factory. I live with pain in my neck, which was broken in prison. My wife rejected me because of my conversion. She took my son away and I haven’t seen him for ten years. But God is good, and I praise Him for His faithfulness.”

Both men are sincere Christians. One gives thanks beacause of what he’s gained. The other gives thanks in spite of what he’s lost.

Material blessings and restored families are defintely worth being thankful for. The brother in China would be grateful to have them again; indeed, he gives heartfelt thanks each day for the little he does have. And while the American brother is certainly right to give thanks, he and the rest of us must be careful to sort out how much of what he has experienced is part of the gospel and how much is not. For any gospel that is more true in America than in China is not the true gospel.

(Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity, p. 89-90)

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  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

    We often hear that we are to give thanks “in” everything, not “for” everything; and this is applied almost exclusively to the bad situations that we have experienced, meaning, we are to give thanks to God during bad times, but we are not to thank God for sending us bad things because God supposedly won’t send these to us (the devil will probably get the blame).

    Now, how about applying this when we experience material prosperity in our lives as well? Although God does send us material blessings, the devil can also ensnare us with material wealth (see Luke 4:6).

    So perhaps it’s also better to thank God “in” everything versus “for” everything when we have material wealth at our disposal, thanking Him for making “all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). This will help us to be more responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to us, instead of us “gratefully” hoarding the so-called blessings for ourselves.

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