I believe in a type of prosperity gospel. Before you agree or disagree, please hear me out.
I’ve seen people injured by the so-called prosperity gospel. One man’s friends told him if he believed, his young son would be healed. He believed with all the faith he could muster. His son died anyway. This man walked away from anything to do with God. This kind of “gospel” is not good news. It cruelly adds blame to pain and loss.
But there’s another extreme that doesn’t believe God’s involved or cares about our desires or temporal pleasures. That’s off-based too.
Consider these Scriptures:
- Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 1:2, (NASB)
- Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 2:5 (NIV)
The Bible doesn’t equate holiness with lack. It’s not wrong to ask for good things. Jesus said, “‘Ask and it will be given to you … Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? … 11 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 good gifts to those who ask him!’” (Matt. 7:7, 9-19, NIV). To forget our heavenly Father provides for our needs is to live like an unbeliever (Matt. 6:28-34).
James 1:17 describes God as the giver of every good and perfect gift. Ironically, this verse appears in the context of trials. Trials are one route to prosperity—“so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
Prosperity is knowing, God is for me (Romans 8:31-32).
How do you define prosperity?
Those who equate prosperity mainly with material wealth and physical health overlook true riches. It certainly can include these things, but sometimes it doesn’t. According to this definition many of the heroes of the faith, of whom “the world was not worthy,” missed out (Heb. 11:36-38). But these witnesses testify to a greater gain.
When we forget we’re spiritual beings housed in physical bodies, we end up with a skewed value system. (2 Cor. 5:6-9). “What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (2 Cor. 4:18, NIV). The physical, fleeting part of life should serve the eternal. Demanding tangible measuring sticks obliterates faith.
God looks at how temporary things affect our eternity. If worldly wealth diminishes our eternal experience, it impoverishes us. If trials strengthen us, they enrich us. God wants you to be eternally RICH!
Remember when David, the overlooked youngest son, faced the giant Goliath? Remember the years he spent in exile hiding in caves from King Saul? We loved this David. When he finally wore Israel’s crown, his character crumbled. David prospered under adversity.
God knows a prosperous soul is the only guarantee to true riches. Glowing health, booming careers, and big bank accounts disappear before or when we die. Paradoxically, those who feed their souls enjoy blessings now and forever (Ps. 1:1-3; Ps. 23: 6). More importantly, they receive eyes to recognize God’s intangible gifts.
My friend Sue is prospering while her body is languishing with stage 4 melanoma. She and her husband, Ronnie, glowed as they shared the supernatural grace they’ve experienced in this torturous journey. “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” Ronnie said. “But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”
“I have two options: be healed, or go to heaven,” Sue said. “Looks like I win either way!”
Prosperity is knowing—whatever my outward circumstances—it will be well with my soul.
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Deborah W. Wilson
Photo by: Sean MacEntee
Tom Earls says
Perhaps the Book of Ecclesiastes, attributed to King Solomon, the most materially prosperous man of his time, could be used as a reference for this discussion.
Chapter 5, Verses 18-20: “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
Tom, that is a great reference offering another facet to to prosperity. Solomon realized things alone can’t satisfy. God enables us to enjoy our work and our possessions. “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.”
Keita Ikeda says
Indeed, Debbie, there is a natural law (law ordained by God) that makes a person who obeys God to be more prosperous than those who do not.
Here is a controlled experiment: Take, for example, two mechanics, Mechanic A who follows God and does what He commands, and Mechanic B, who does not. Mechanic A treats every customer with respect and deals with them fairly and goes out of his way to not mistreat his customers even at a loss to him. Mechanic B is polite but looks after himself at the cost of his customers. Eventually, customers will prefer to deal with mechanic A rather than B, and hence A will start to prosper beyond B. Even if A didn’t believe in God but followed His commandment to treat his customers as himself, the result would be the same. A would prosper beyond B in the long run.
Keita, I agree God’s laws benefits those who follow them. It even benefits nations. When our culture showed more respect for God’s values, we felt safe. We didn’t have to censure TV programs. I grew up in a time I was free to ride my bike all over town without my parents living in fear someone would harm me.
But there is a special blessing that comes from genuine faith. Maybe like the difference between simply having your material needs met and having them met and also knowing you are loved. The relationship offers a different type of prosperity to people of faith.
Ann Musico says
“I have two options: be healed, or go to heaven,” Sue said. “Looks like I win either way!” Wow what an awesome attitude your friend has! And that is so true. I always look at God from a parent’s point of view – would I put cancer or inflict pain on my child to “teach” them – NO! But there are times when tough love is necessary in order for them to learn from their mistakes and adversities and to grow in maturity, wisdom and faith. As a parent it’s my responsibility to prepare them for life – and I believe our heavenly Father is preparing us for life as well – both here and eternally. I do believe He wants me to prosper and be in health even as my soul (mind, will, emotions) prosper and I trust He knows best how to do that.
Sue and Ronnie are amazing. I hope you’ll join me in praying for them. I like your thought of looking at God from a parent’s perspective. Parents want the best for their children, but sometimes that best doesn’t feel good at the moment. Being allowed to skip homework might feel better, but wouldn’t feel good on exam day. Ann, thanks for sharing.