Life Theology

Jesus Didn’t Suffer and Die on a Cross to Make You a Better Person

Last November, for my birthday, Mike Janssen gave me a pseudo-present: a Joel Osteen, Become a Better You daily calender (thanks, Mike!).  For Thursday, May 15, Osteen quotes Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and he will direct and make straight and plan your paths.”  Here is Osteen’s motivational thoughts:

I believe one of the best prayers that we could ever prayer is “God not my will, but your will be done.”  I pray it in some form every day: “God open up the right doors and close the wrong doors.”  If you will stay open to His direction and follow your heart, God will protect you.  It says in the Proverbs, “If you acknowledge God in all your ways, He will direct your paths.”  One translation says, “He’ll crown your efforts with success.” 

I’m pretty sure that Osteen’s idea of success is vastly different than God’s.  I’m pretty sure that God does not always crown our efforts with success.  I’m pretty sure that sometimes we even fall flat on our face so that we know the surpassing power belongs to God and not us (2 Cor. 4:7).  Perhaps success, in God’s eyes, is suffering even though you did something right (1 Pt. 2:15-16).  Perhaps success, in God’s eyes, is being beaten five times with 39 lashes so that others will come to experience Jesus as their treasure (2 Cor. 11:24-27). Perhaps success, in God’s eyes, is being persecuted and mocked because that’s the same thing they did to Jesus (Jn. 15:20).

I would like to ask Joel Osteen how that fits into his prosperity theology.  Certainly God will make our paths straight and will lead us to rivers of joy, but that is grounded in his Son Jesus.  Success is not the goal of the Christian.  God’s glory and our joy is.

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” 



4 replies on “Jesus Didn’t Suffer and Die on a Cross to Make You a Better Person”

Hi there! First time reader here. I listen to Joel about twice a week. I used to have a real problem with prosperity preaching, but these days I don’t mind it. Alot of christians treat God like he’s a personal genie. I feel that God does want us to have the desires of our hearts, but I believe it’s so secondary!

Alot of Christians don’t want to put the time in to KNOW God on a personal level. I believe that once you want HIM and not what he can do for you, he will reward your circumstances. But again, it’s a sidenote to Him. It needs to be one for us too!


Yes, the Giver is the point. Not the gifts. My point is simply that success in God’s eyes are not on the same level as human standards. His joys are much higher than ours and we should seek our satisfaction in him.

Thanks for reading.


Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our salvation. But since accepting Him, I have sought to become like Him… which does make me a better person. I would hope that everyone who accepts Him becomes more merciful, more generous, more loving… in essence, a new creature. I have come to understand that I really didn’t chose Him. He chose me, and I answered. Therefore, I know suffering is a part of life, but will never feel defeated again. For now I know who I am and I know Whose I am. I know that God loves me and that I am his masterpiece. I will tell you this: now that I know what I know, I am definitely living my best life, right NOW! And I appreciate Joel Osteen for waking me up and encouraging me to open my mind and my heart to the truth that is Jesus.


When I say that Jesus didn’t die to make us better people, I mean that God’s end goal for the world is his glory. His #1 in dying was to display his glory. Can we become better people because of it? Most certainly, however, Joel Osteen, from what I have seen and read, is not a Christ-centered person. He is very man-centered. Osteen teaches, in sum, that Christ died to give us wealth and make us better moral people. This is not in the Scriptures.

For a deeper look at why Jesus died, see “Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die” by John Piper.


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