Making Sense of Money - Part - B ... Prosperity
The carnal always bellows for attention and drowns out the spiritual.
This competition is incredibly fierce. It is usually unnoticed in the individual and is most strongest when that which is carnal lays claims to actually being spiritual in both origin and value.
The Gospel of Jesus has been savaged of righteousness and de-nuded of truth as repentance has become the new path to riches. The 'prosperity gospel' reinforces God desire to make me rich before it introduces me to the path of righteousness. This the 'carnal' laying claim to be 'spiritual.'
Does God want me to be materially rich? Well ....YES!!!
There are 82 references in the Old Testament to the word 'prosperity' and its derivatives ('prosper' etc). God has not been quiet about His blessings for His followers. 'Prosperity' sure appears to be Biblical.
There is one New Testament reference to only 'prosper' in Acts 13:17. (These statistics are based on the NIV translation.)
The New Testament speaks of 'prosperity' in other ways. Yes - 'prosperity' is Biblical as the New Testament witness is now briefly considered.
Jesus and 'prosperity'
Jesus 'nails' the intentions of the perfect Heavenly Father very high and very clearly in Luke 11 as He concludes this purple passage on prayer:
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!' (Lk 11:11-13)
This heavenly Father only ever wants to make good deposits in His children's lives, He intentionally only wants to give them the very best. He literally seeks to give to His own, Himself (see v13 - the Holy Spirit) to His children. What healthy father would not want to give of himself to his children?
But there's more ... to this Father -- He also gives without restraint (Jn 3:34) and without finding fault (James 1:4) His resources are as endless as His capabilities and love. Surely prosperity is for all who would bend the knee to His righteous Son?
But there's even more ... Jesus explains His intentions for His sheep with great clarity in Jn 10:10:
"The thief (satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
It is an abundance of life that Jesus intends for His sheep to receive, and in fact when they haven't received this, it is because satan has stolen it from them. This is not 'pie in the sky when you die' but truly 'steak on your plate while you wait. 'Life to the full' is about living on earth, not just simply waiting for the abundance of heaven.
Where there is poverty there is robbery.
A loving brother, just as much as a loving father would give abundance and not poverty. Jesus nor His Father is mean-spirited, malevolent or a miser.
The real problem with the prosperity gospel, is that it actually teaches disciples to pursue indulgence and not self-denial. Repentance has become a path to cash and not cleansing.
The prosperity gospel teaches the pursuit of riches at the expense of righteousness. Such a path may find riches from earth (they may not too) but will never receive riches from heaven.
Should I have prosperity?
Prosperity is the Father's gift to me, not my gift to me. Gifts are offered and not organised.
Prosperity is elusive if I seek it, if I don't it may well find me. When the carnal side of a Christian seduces him to believe that pursuing prosperity is a correct spiritual activity he is deceived.
God will not give me what may well become a competitor to HIm in my life. His knowledge of my heart is so much more accurate than my knowledge of my heart. (Jer 17:9-10) I can be the biggest hindrance to receiving His assets.
Seven reasons why prosperity eludes:
- God knows I am not trustworthy with it yet, it would cause me spiritual harm
- I have looked after myself at God's expense.(Haggai 1:1--11)
- Satan has been actively against me in my life. (Jn 10:10, Rev 12:17))
- I am impatient for the hand of the Lord to deliver. (Ps 37:3-4)
- Jesus has called me, set me aside for a life such as His. As with singleness, so too poverty can be a calling.
- I have not found either humility or the fear of God. The humble and the fearful of God, He will prosper. (Ps 25:8-15)
- I don't honor God with my 'first-fruits' (money) anyway. Note, the Biblical axiom of reaping what you sow. (see also Malachi 3:6-16)
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. (2 Cor 9:6)
This also raises the problem of 'giving to get'. God honors generosity. This is an attitude of the spirit. God will still not honor the greedy who think the path to their greed being satisfied is giving. There is no purity of heart or seeking of His righteousness here, such motivation is entirely selfish.
He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Prov 21:21)
'Well-being' is found on the highway to holiness (Is 35:8-10) and prosperity when I first delight myself in the Lord. (Ps 34:7)
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)
In this covetous and carnal generation it is also most helpful to understand that Biblical prosperity canvasses so much more than simply material wealth. It also encompasse safety, health, lack of anxiety and harmonious relationships, all are indicators of a prosperous life (see also Rev 2:9).
An axiom of healthy Christian living for all to learn is that:
"The LORD be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant." (Ps 35:27b)
So is 'prosperity' for me? Yes, every father would want to give greatly to his children, so too our Father in heaven, He delights in our well-being.
BUT remember this... Our father in heaven will never gives us a competitor to Him in our hearts.