Divine Prosperity – Truth or Vanity? (Part 1)

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The first time I heard a preacher talk about money in the church, I reeled with disgust. I grew up in an era when money was never mentioned from the pulpit, when poverty was appreciated as a virtue and wealth viewed with suspicion. These values were deeply embedded in my thinking and influenced every thought in my mind, and those roots went deep.

As I began to study what the Bible, mostly to confirm my own opinion on the matter, I was amazed to see how much it has to say about money and wealth.

The best attitude is always one of humility and readiness to follow the Word as a lamp on our path of learning. Any personal preferences will only hinder what God wants to teach us. We know that Jesus continuously washes us with the washing of the Word so that He can present us to Himself a glorious church. (Ephesians 5:26-27) Let us never stop this process of washing, believing that there is no more filth clinging to us, no matter what truth He reveals to us.

When God opens up some truth that was previously hidden or misunderstood, He seems to put it under the magnifying glass for us to attract our attention to it. The church then responds in a process of extreme embrace and rejection – immediate reception by those that embrace it without considering it in the context of the entire Scripture, and rejection by other for the same reason. We do this from the emotional attachment to our own frame of reference. But the Bible speaks for itself and, as we dig deeper and deeper, the truth eventually rises in all its glory to the surface for all to see.

It is a mistake to form an opinion on any matter in Scripture before it is established in context, and by that we mean all the legs that support important doctrine. We find the roots in Genesis, the Book of Beginnings, then we begin to see the first blades in the Law, branches in Psalms, leaves in the Prophets and, finally, the fruit in the New Testament.

In Genesis we see God speaking the first words ever spoken to man when He blessed them. That blessing came before they took up residence in their earthly bodies, indicating that blessing is a spiritual matter. Our Creator then prepared a garden for them with everything that they needed in it. There is even mention of gold and precious stones. Sin stripped them from that abundant provision, and forced them to toil in sweat for their daily bread.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Man’s plight touched the heart of God and He opened a door for them to have at least some of the blessing restored by giving them the Law.

Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God… (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

The Book of Psalms is filled with God’s rich blessing on His people, beginning with the first psalm.

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)

The call of the prophets to backsliding Israel to repent and return to the Lord runs like a thread through their prophecies, often ending with a reminder of God’s blessing on the obedient. A very well-known portion of Scripture speaks about God’s desire for His people:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts… (Malachi 3:10-11)

When Jesus embarks on His earthly ministry, He reveals the vision of His calling:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

It is interesting to note that the first thing that Jesus said He came to do was to preach good news to the poor. His first miracle was a miracle of provision when He turned water into wine. There was no pressing urgency; it was purely a miracle of blessing that revealed the goodness of God.

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:11)

The apostle Paul speaks about God’s provision in several places. In the verses below he thanks the Philippian church for an offering they had sent his way.

Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:18-19)

God supplies in our needs according to His riches in glory! Jesus also spoke about this level of God’s provision for His children:

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matt. 6:28-30)

God will clothe us in more glory than Solomon and the lilies of the field!

Don’t miss Part 2 when we will look at balance, the purpose of wealth, principles that govern wealth, promises, and warnings against abuse!

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