pros·per·i·ty noun \prä-ˈsper-ə-tē\
: the state of being successful usually by making a lot of money
Many preachers of the “charismatic persuasion” love to tout the idea that [if you just believe and say it is so] blessings will flow out of heaven to you and you will be blessed with material things and great health. Sounds nice. They pick certain Bible verses (and omit others that contradict their teaching) to prove that what they say is true. Somehow, God becomes relegated to the role of servant– our ‘personal butler’ who comes running when we ring the bell to find out how to please us best. What a sad and dangerous thing it is to demote almighty, sovereign God to such a position. I beg to differ with my brothers and sisters (and false teachers) who subscribe to such teaching. In order to make my case, I shall refer the reader to what God’s Word says on the subject (and not by just pulling a select few verses out of context).
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. -James 1:2-4 (NET)
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I must confess that, at one point, I wanted to buy into the whole idea of “speaking blessings into existence.” The Bible has revealed certain things to me and [I believe] it has been put on my heart to write about this in my blog.
“What is mankind that you make so much of them,
and that you pay attention to them? -Job 7:17 (NET)
I read a daily devotional Bible that takes you through the Bible in a year (my plan has been to read a different version every year). This year, I am going through the King James Version (Andrew Murray Devotional Bible published by Barbour). Because it is King James, I am a little slower at reading it and have to stop a little more frequently, ask for guidance and ponder the meaning of some words and phrases that might otherwise be easier to grasp in a more modern translation. Therefore, I really crawled through the book of Job (just wrapped it up) and had plenty of time to ponder what it all means. So, let’s give some careful thought to Job’s story…
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. And that man was pure and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions included 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys; in addition he had a very great household. Thus he was the greatest of all the people in the east. -Job 1:1-3 (NET)
Job was a righteous man whom God loved (as He does all of us). Job prospered in all his affairs, having a large family and wealth in land, livestock, servants, etc. He seemed to put God first in all of his affairs.
Now the day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord—and Satan also arrived among them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” And Satan answered the Lord, “From roving about on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.”
Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land. But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!”
So the Lord said to Satan, “All right then, everything he has is in your power. Only do not extend your hand against the man himself!” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. -Job 1:6-12 (NET)
We know from reading on in the book that eventually Satan is allowed to smite Job with boils and he suffers immensely. All that he has (now including his health) is stripped away. Even his own wife suggests that he curse God and die (Job 2:9). Awful. Surely Job struggles with his condition but eventually repents “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6). What would some of these modern faith healers and prosperity teachers have said to Job if they were his contemporaries? Would they have told him he didn’t have enough faith? Did God ever stop loving Job? These are rather important questions for the thinking Christian to be asking themselves, are they not?
Does God bless His people? Yes, of course. In many ways I have been blessed in my life. But that doesn’t make us immune to heartache, financial problems and health issues. God will bless us, but in His time and with what He sees fit for us to have to bring glory to Him. Let us not ever forget who is the servant and who is the master.
Perhaps we need to examine what we as believers regard as true prosperity in the first place. Note the definition of prosperity as given by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. the state of being successful usually by making a lot of money. I think, as Christians, perhaps we need to redefine our measure of success and take the “money” part out of it. We may make a lot of money. Or we may not. what God guarantees us as His children is eternal success.