What is God’s Kind of Prosperity?
Scripture does talk about God’s desire to prosper his people, who walk in obedience.
Deuteronomy 28:1-11 says
And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. ‘‘The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.”
John says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2
It is evident that God, in his Word, wants us to prosper, but what does that mean? The word in Greek for prosperity also means “to be successful.” Does that mean riches? Finances? Fruitfulness in the Spirit? Fame?
God’s definition of prosperity: That you have everything you need to do what God has called you to do.
A lot of preachers talk about prosperity and they imply that it is all about money. They imply that if you give especially to their ministries, that you will receive an hundred fold return. The problem with that mentality is that it is giving to get.
You cannot treat God like a cosmic slot machine, giving money in order to get a return. God is not bound by law, but is moved by faith. If you give with the wrong motive, to serve mammon, there is no faith involved, just treating God like a robot that is obligated to carry out your commands. What if your giving now is returned to you in 40 years, or returned to you in ways you cannot imagine?
Jesus did say, “Give and it shall be given to you, good measure, shaken together, will be poured into your lap.” But he also said that we should “lend with no thought of return.”
God will indeed meet your needs, but he will not feed your greed. He has a greater concern than that. His first priority is to build your character, so that you look like his Son Jesus.
1 Timothy 6:9 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”
IF Success and prosperity aren’t about riches, then what? The building of character. He wants your soul to prosper first, just as he called the Hebrews to obedience to the covenant.
Let us Look at a perfect example: Joseph.
Then what happened! The Story of Exile.
Genesis 39:1-5 “Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field.”
Joseph was successful in all that he did, even in slavery, even in prison, but none of that made sense go Joseph. He could not understand what God was doing. It was so far from the dream in his heart.
Genesis 40:12-15 “Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his butler. But remember me, when it is well with you, and do me the kindness, I pray you, to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.””
Genesis 40:23; 41:1 “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile…”
Genesis 41:39-46 “So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discreet and wise as you are; you shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in his second chariot; and they cried before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenathpaneah; and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt.”
Joseph was 13 years in slavery
Joseph was 37 when dream was fulfilled
Genesis 50:19, 20 “But Joseph said to them, ‘‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”