I’ve heard a number of Christians say that if we have enough to cover all of our basic expenses and daily needs, then we have everything the Bible says we should have. I used to believe that myself for many years but then I began to notice something seemed to be missing here. Before opening the Bible, maybe we should first take a step back and think rationally here. I’m all in favor of common sense and simplicity when looking for answers to tough questions.
First step, let’s take a logical approach to this. If all you have is enough to scrape by and barely cover your needs, what do you say about giving to those in need? Does your belief as a Christian say anything about giving to those who live in poverty? Have you seen those pictures of starving kids in India, South America, Africa, etc? Does this not produce any emotional response and drive to do something? Or, go beyond that, do you ever wish you had more to give them? What about your church? Do you go to a church that is actually bearing fruit and that you are excited to be part of? Do you have any thought that maybe that church doesn’t operate for free? If everyone stopped giving and the doors closed and the church shut down, what would that do to you?
There are a lot of missionaries all over the world who live completely off donations. There are many very reliable Christian organizations that work in poor countries to provide for many needs including clothing, food, education, health, personal mentoring, child sponsorship and, very importantly, all this in the name of Jesus with a spreading of the Gospel message. I rarely hear of atheists or followers of other religions giving to these organizations. There are also missionaries scattered all throughout the world who are fulfilling the “great commission” to spread the Gospel message which is the only message that has the power to deliver souls from death and eternity in hell. Sending out missionaries is not cheap, this requires an extraordinary amount of monetary wealth to provide for their needs while they are living purely by faith and doing the work God has called them to.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
(Matthew 24:14 ESV)
Ok, so now we understand the needs that exist. But what does God have to say to us about wealth and prosperity? I have myself felt very convicted to greatly increase my giving for all of the above purposes partly because of these words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew. From Genesis to Revelation, there are no lack of verses that speak of abundance and prosperity to those who follow diligently and sincerely after God with all their heart. Whoever is getting the idea that lack and austerity is Biblically accurate is quite simply not reading from the same Bible I’ve been reading and that totally defies the logic above here!
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
(John 10:10 NKJV)
Take a good look at that verse there, those are Jesus’ words. Did you catch that? Right there is a divide and distinction between God’s plan and Satan’s lies. The thief (Satan) comes to take everything you have, even your own life. But God came teaching us through Emmanuel that we are to have life abundantly. Anytime you hear negative attitudes on the topic of prosperity, you really should come right back to this verse and get to the root of where the attitude is coming from.
The Character of God
Understanding truth and distinguishing it from a lie always requires a foundational knowledge of the character of God. I hear a lot of people make up in their own imagination what they think God is like and I’m not suggesting at all that this is to be sorted out apart from the clear words of the Bible and the inspired understanding by the Holy Spirit. It is in fact possible to read the Bible from a purely intellectual perspective and get nothing out of it, or worse yet, a totally false understanding. Why is that so? Because the Holy Spirit inspired every single word in all 66 books and the only way to understand those words is by that same Spirit! As we do this, we will discover His true character and the conditions that must be met for Him to give us the blessing of prosperity and health that He makes available to us.
So what does the Bible actually say about abundance and prosperity? Go back again to that section above about giving. Let’s see what we can find about where your giving or your gifts will take you:
A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.
(Proverbs 18:16 NKJV)
So let’s see if Jesus said anything Himself about giving. Did He have a self-centered teaching or did He say anything about looking out for those in need? Apparently He did, right here:
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
(Luke 6:38 ESV)
So far it seems like giving is tied to receiving and generosity is beginning to look like a core value of God’s instruction. Common sense reveals that giving requires that you actually have something beyond just your basic needs. Now it’s time to check out a variety of passages that deal directly with God’s true character to give good things to those who follow Him, His promises of prosperity and His teaching on how our own character is to be the same as His.
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
(Deuteronomy 8:18 NKJV)
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
(Psalms 34:10 NIV1984)
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
(3 John 1:2 NKJV)
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
(Psalms 84:11 NKJV)
May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children.
(Psalms 115:14 NKJV)
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,
but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.
(Proverbs 28:27 NIV1984)
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
(1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV)
knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord
(Ephesians 6:8 NKJV)
What’s in Your Heart?
Your outlook on prosperity is going to be strongly influenced on your own personal vision and desires. Do you desire to give abundantly? Do you have a vision to fund God’s work through missionaries and churches? Do you love your neighbor thousands of miles away and care enough about those in need to give? If you already have more than enough, do you think just maybe God gave you that extra so that you could use part of it to accomplish His work?
Myself personally, I’ve been learning that to the extent of one’s desire to do good, God is willing to meet that person at that level and provide more than enough. That provision includes things like: ideas to create wealth, wisdom to manage finances properly, opportunities and open doors to connect with others who will help us achieve great increase. God is good. Prosperity was His idea, not Satan’s. God is not anti-wealth. God created the world and everything in it; it is our job to seek Him with all our heart and expect that He will give us the ability to produce prosperity in all areas of our lives. As for me, my vision is to do everything I have described above here to the greatest extent possible.