I don’t think there is one human being on the face of this earth that will honestly say to you…. “I don’t want to be successful”. Success can mean different things to different people. But in our own way, we all want to be successful.
But sometimes that can present us with some challenges. As Christians we want to live a spiritual lifestyle. We want to enjoy inner peace and have fellowship with God.
But how do you strive for success in everyday life, without neglecting your spiritual life? How can you enjoy inner peace while living in a world where everybody is competitive? Can Christians really enjoy the excitement of the good life without feeling guilty along the way?
If you have to choose between prosperity and peace; what will you choose? Ouch. Not a nice choice to make, is it? If you want to enjoy peace it means that you don’t want to be worried all the time. You don’t want to be stressed or anxious about things. You don’t want to be concerned about the stock market or your investment portfolio or even the economy in general. And you surely don’t want to live in fear.
What if you want prosperity? Firstly you need to determine what prosperity really means to you? There is much talk about the ‘prosperity Gospel’ today. But what does it really mean?
Why do we have to refer to ‘this gospel’ and ‘that gospel’ while we should only be concerned with the Gospel? Surely, prosperity gets mentioned in the Gospel, but so does healing, and faith, and loyalty, and work, and sin, and righteousness and everything and anything that is applicable to life.
I can’t help but notice that often people would stand in awe because of the wealth of some celebrity. Or they would be amazed by the billions of dollars that some well-known business icon has made with some business transaction. These celebrities and business people get treated with the greatest respect and they are seen as successful role models.
Yet, as soon as you hear about a man or woman of God who became wealthy, he or she needs to be investigated….
What Does Prosperity Mean To You?
So, what does prosperity mean to you? Is it money? Is it an abundance of material possessions? Does it include anything else? Does it include your health maybe?
If we limit our prosperity to material possessions and money only, we are missing out seriously. As a matter of fact, I think we are seriously adding to our own sorrows and stresses.
If we base our self-esteem, our self-image on the balance in a bank account and our own ability to build that bank account, we are in trouble.
When hearing the word ‘prosperity’, many people start thinking about money and material possessions. But when the Bible talks about prosperity, it doesn’t only refer to money and earthly wealth. Having money can be part of being prosperous, but it is about so much more than just having money.
As Christians we often hear how humble we should be. ‘Being humble’ is often associated with just getting by with the bare minimum. Many Christians (almost secretly) live in fear that if they become financially blessed they won’t be humble anymore. It is as if having money and possessions are associated with greed and materialism. Many of these Christians only expect to be blessed and enjoy the promised blessings from the Bible “one day when they go to heaven”.
Lack is not necessarily a sign of humility or of being humble. Neither does it mean that you are greedy or materialistic when you do have abundance. Material abundance (or the lack thereof), has nothing to do with your salvation. It is all about Jesus and putting your trust in Him. It is not about what you have or don’t have.
John 10:10 (KJV) says “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Jesus came that we might have life abundantly.
Look at what 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV) says; “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In her book – 3 Steps to The Good Life – Gloria Copeland explains that in this verse the word ‘wholly’ means “whole, complete, undamaged and in-tact. In other words” she says, “God wants us to live our lives separated unto Him, and He wants us well in every way. He wants us whole, complete, undamaged and intact in our spirits, our minds, our bodies, our finances and so on.”
Notice also how this verse says “…I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. That means….now, here in this life. The study notes on the same verse in the KJV Life Application Bible say “The spirit, soul and body are not distinct parts of a person. This expression is Paul’s way of saying that God must be involved in every aspect of our lives. It is wrong to think that we can separate our spiritual lives from everything else, obeying God only in some ethereal sense or living for Him only one day each week. Christ must control all of us, not just a ‘religious’ part”.
The same principle is also found in 3 John 2, which says “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
It is clear that God wants us to live abundantly and to be prosperous. Having material wealth in itself has nothing to do with your salvation. It is about what you are focused on and what is of value to you. It is about how we use it that makes the difference.
Money is always either our boss or our slave ~ Latin Proverb
God Wants To Bless You
The Bible is full of examples where God wants to bless His people, yes, even with physical blessings. God doesn’t want us to lack anything. The problem lies with us.
We get pre-occupied with the abundance and the beauty. We get so carried away that we start thinking we don’t need God anymore.
We cannot ‘act holy’ on one day of the week and then try to impress the world with a flashy lifestyle as if we have obtained it by ourselves for the remainder of the week. In the 16th chapter of the book of Ezekiel God tells us in no uncertain terms what He thinks of this.
Anything that can be a stumbling-block to us should rather be avoided. So if physical possessions put you at risk of back-sliding, it is better to avoid it until you have developed the strength to manage it responsibly. But while we still may be weak in some areas, it doesn’t give us the right to bad-mouth other people who does handle it in responsible ways to glorify God.
According to Genesis 1:26-28 (NIV) “….God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
But how did man become a living being? Where does man’s great potential come from? What makes man different from the rest of creation?
Genesis 2:7 (NIV) says “Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
The study notes in KJV Life Application Bible on Genesis 2:7 says “’Of the dust of the ground’ implies that there is nothing fancy about the chemical elements from which we are made. The body is a lifeless shell until God brings it alive with his ‘breath of life’. When God removes His life-giving breath, our bodies once again return to dust. Therefore our life and worth come from God’s Spirit. Many boast of their achievements, only to fall soon after. Others have no achievements to boast about. But in reality, our worth comes not from our achievements but from the God of the universe, who chooses to give us the mysterious and miraculous gift of life. Value it, as He does.”
Everything Starts From Within.
Everything starts from within. Everything belongs to God. Yet, He delegated authority to us to “….replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” in Genesis 1:28 (KJV).
In Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV) Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The Word of God says in Philippians 4:19 (NIV) “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) says “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” and James 1:5 (NIV) says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
When you focus on external things and you start working from the outside – focused on material things – to get internal pleasure and satisfaction, you are relying on your own strength. That will open you up for stress and failure.
We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to focus on the power we receive from Him to achieve anything in life. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”, says Philippians 4:13 (NIV).
“But what about the bad economy?” you ask. What about crime? What if the stock markets crash? What if you lose your health? What if you lose your job? What if…..what if……what if….?
Even if you don’t lose anything, there is the constant stress of maintaining everything. The bigger your house, the more maintenance you have. The more expensive car you drive the more expensive it becomes to maintain it. The more you have the more responsibilities you have.
Now don’t get me wrong, as we have clearly seen from the Word, there is nothing wrong with being blessed and having these nice things. But who or what do you put your trust in? Is your security in your possessions….in the ‘stuff’? Or is your trust in your Creator who has provided these blessings to you in the first place?
In God’s economy there is no lack. Even if the world’s economy collapses, God can still provide for you and make you prosperous. What if you lose your job? God has provided for you in the past. The same God that provided for you up until now will also provide for you in the future. If you lose your house, ask God for wisdom and He will give you the wisdom you need until you can afford a new house.
If you lose your health God will heal you. God has always healed people, He still does and He always will.
If you lose your wealth, nothing is lost; if you lose your health, something is lost; if you lose your character, all is lost. ~ Billy Graham
Prosperity or Peace; What Will You Choose?
This is the good news; you don’t have to choose. True prosperity will also bring you peace, because true prosperity is not just about material possessions. It is about wholeness. It is about being well in all areas of life, spirit, soul and body.
So, if you make the right choice – if you choose true prosperity by involving God in every area of your life – you will also receive peace as part of your prosperity.