What Does the Bible Say About Prosperity?
Does God want us to prosper?
Is it in His will for every Christian to have worldly wealth? Or does He ask every Christian to give up the things of the world and live a life of poverty?
These questions of faith and money are not new, and are not unique to our modern culture. During his 3-year ministry on earth, Jesus spoke of money frequently. In fact, there are over 2,300 verses on money in the Bible (more than those on heaven and hell combined). So clearly, God cares about our finances. He cares how we use our money, but He also cares how we feel about it – what our heart’s condition toward finances is.
Sadly, the desire for riches on earth is something that divides and destroys many individuals and their marriages.
I was guilty of this in my own marriage for 21 years – I wanted more, bigger, better because I was focused on the money. I was discontent, and my wife was content. When we finally got on the same page about money, everything changed. Our relationship improved and we experienced a freedom like never before.
We’re so passionate about helping other couples experience the same, so we wrote a book together. Money Problems, Marriage Solutions just hit shelves yesterday and you can order your copy now.
To answer the question of prosperity, we must look at it from more than one angle.
The Prosperity Gospel
One major school of thought in the Christian realm is what’s known as the Prosperity Gospel.
This philosophy teaches that riches are a sign of God’s blessing, and that you can “command” God to bless you financially. When you receive these large financial blessings from the Lord, you can also spend it however you like – extravagantly and carefree.
This teaching is false and contradicts all Scriptural warnings against sins like greed, coveting, idolatry, selfishness, and the love of money.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Poverty Gospel.
Also false, this teaching suggests that all Christians should give up worldly wealth and commit to a life of poverty. They believe that money and possessions are evil, that rich people are greedy and sinful, that being poor makes you more righteous in God’s eyes, and that spending brings guilt and condemnation.
Neither are true and neither are constructive.
The Bible does not condemn wealth and neither should we. The Bible does not uphold poverty as the pathway to righteousness, nor should we.
Scripture is filled with heroes of the faith who come from all financial backgrounds. God used them all according to their unique calling and purpose – not according to their balance at the bank. “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all,” notes Proverbs 22:2.
The issue here is not being rich or poor, but the heart attitude towards money that concerns the Lord. Regardless of our net worth, we all are responsible to be good and faithful stewards of all that God gives us.
For many, materialism can be identified as the desire created by “more, bigger, better, faster, newer”. It is an attitude of discontentment and a greedy drive to have more stuff.
Jesus revealed the heart issue underlying the desires for more, bigger, better, faster, newer in this one word: greed. He warns us to not fall into this trap of materialism, because when money grips our heart, it affects everything else.
Materialism can also be rooted out of a fear or insecurity. The need to accumulate and hold tightly to earthly possessions may be an outward symptom of a fearful and distrusting heart. Relinquishing control of your own things and allowing God to be the rightful owner will be met with a great spiritual, emotional, and mental relief. Freedom only comes when we no longer see ourselves as the owner of all we have.
Most think that materialism is only a struggle for those who can afford to be materialistic – the rich. But materialism can take root in the heart of anyone, regardless their economic standing.
But 1 Timothy 6:9 says that “those who want to get rich” can fall prey to all kinds of grievous sin. According to Scripture, truly prosperous lives are built upon stable foundations.
Helping Others Prosper
Embracing God’s definition of prosperity must include advocates for growing healthy families who view themselves as stewards to manage and expand the resources they have been given.
This includes helping others prosper, and seeking a win/win in our endeavors. Those we are serving should have the priority of the first win – think about the way Christ modeled His life: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
This is counterintuitive and countercultural. But most commands in Scripture are. God’s true desire is for us to trust Him with our needs, and to be obedient to His plan for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that He has a good plan to prosper us.
Live out your trust in God by serving the needs of others.
Serving is one of the greatest ways to eliminate an attitude of greed or selfishness. If you find yourself struggling with these earthly desires, commit to serving others at least once a week on a regular basis. It will do wonders for your heart and finances.
If you want to start this journey to financial freedom with your spouse, I’d encourage you to get a copy of my new book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. My wife, Ann, and I wrote it together and devoted an entire chapter to what prosperity in marriage looks like. You’ll find a lot of other encouragement in our book, with some extremely practical suggestions on how to get on the same page and unite your marriage.