Way of Prosperity
Way of Prosperity
By Colby Junkin
The biblical perspective and definition of prosperity has been robbed of its original design by the preaching of the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel is the belief that material wealth is the reward for devout Christians. The determining factor of one’s faithfulness to God is no longer his service in the kingdom, but rather the sum of his bank accounts and possessions. We have rightly opposed this false doctrine, but our work is not ended by just voicing our opposition. We should acknowledge that God is not opposed to His followers being prosperous and wise stewards of His blessings, but these blessings are not the determining factor of one’s faithfulness. This redefining of prosperity can possibly influence us and reshape our own understanding of biblical prosperity. Therefore, it is important for us to recognize the way of prosperity as defined by God in His Word.
When Joshua was commissioned by God to become Israel’s new leader, he was given the very definition of God’s way of prosperity. The Lord said to Joshua -
7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (1:7-8; emphasis mine, bcj)
These instructions to Joshua were a call to faithfully serve the Lord. If Joshua desired to be successful, then the Law of Moses was going to be essential for his success. The Lord required Joshua to meditate upon it day and night, not turn to the left or right, carefully and obediently follow it, and then his way would be prosperous. This establishes the way of prosperity as defined by God. It was not an accumulation of material possessions, but rather complete surrender and faithfulness to God’s Word.
The way of prosperity, as told to Joshua, was not forgotten by Israel, but rather serves as the introduction and foundation to the book of Psalms. The first Psalm begins with these instructions from the Lord -
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (1:1-3; emphasis mine, bcj)
The blessed man is not measured by his achievements on earth, but rather by the time he has devoted to the study and application of God’s Word. The way of prosperity is not depended upon material possessions, but rather the spiritual knowledge one accumulates and dispenses as he bears fruit for the Lord.
The way of prosperity, as given in the Old Testament, is not lost in the teaching of New Testament. When Jesus’ disciples were struggling to understand His teaching regarding earthly riches, Jesus told the disciples –
29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29; emphasis mine, bcj)
These men had left everything to follow Jesus. The cost of their discipleship was high, but Jesus promised the disciples that their sacrifices would not be forgotten. When one leaves all to follow Jesus, then he receives the greatest reward of all – eternal life! The way of prosperity is once again not defined by earthly possessions and wealth, but rather by faithfulness and devotion to the will of God.
Our world will continue to be swayed by this redefining of prosperity. The prosperity gospel may promise its follower financial freedom and wealth, but what does either of these have to do with eternity? The promise of financial wealth as the blessing of discipleship is a complete failure to recognize the true way of prosperity revealed by God. Our lives are not about the accumulation of physical possessions, but rather storing up treasures in heaven. The apostle John captures the true attitude of prosperity in his prayer for the brethren – “2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Our soul prospers when we draw closer to God through the study and obedience to His Word. May God give us the wisdom not to be swayed by the prosperity gospel, but rather to teach others to the true way to prosperity through God’s Word.