Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (3 John 2 KJV)
The scriptures are clear: God wants us to prosper. But what does God call prosperity? Because of the role of the term prosperity in Christianity today, we must understand God’s definition of prosperity as revealed in the scriptures. This devotional reviews two dimensions of Biblical prosperity: the prosperity of the works of our hands and the condition of our being.
The first dimension of prosperity as succeeding in the works of our hands is revealed in the Hebrew and Greek words used in John 1:8 and 3 John 3. In Joshua 1:8, the Lord instructed Joshua to make his way prosperous and to have good success. The Hebrew word for prosperity here is tsaleach, which means “to cause to make steady favorable progress or succeed” or complete what one sets out to do. Tsaleach is succeeding in what we set out to do instead of failing. Joshua set out to bring the Israelites to the promised land—his purpose, his ministry, the work of his hands—and he prospered or succeeded.
The Greek word for prosperity in 3 John 3 is eudoo which also carries the same idea of “to be successful in accomplishing some activity or event1” or “to have things turn out well .”The key phrase in this first dimension is the works of our hands, which includes but is not limited to financial matters. For instance, in Gen. 24:21, God prospered the journey of Abraham’s servant by causing him to find a wife for Isaac—what he set out to do. 2 Chron. 32:30 says, “And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.”
If you are a minister and succeed in doing what God has called you to do, you are prosperous. If you are a man like Isaac looking for a wife and succeed in finding the woman of your dreams God has brought your way, you are prosperous. Similarly, if you are a business making profits as you set out to do, you are prosperous. So, although prospering by acquiring material possessions is an integral part of the works of our hands, it is only a part of physical prosperity.
The second important dimension of prosperity is doing well in the condition of our being—body, soul, and Spirit. In this facet of prosperity, the Lord is not concerned about the works of hands but how we are doing as a person. The pivotal phase here is “doing well” or “developing positively.” As such physical health is bodily prosperity. Furthermore, a healthy emotional or mental state is prosperity. Then comes spiritual prosperity, which is doing well in our relationship with God and the state of our hearts. A heart that is bearing an abundance of the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy, patience, kindness, righteousness, etc., is prospering abundantly. In fact, these virtues are spiritual riches in the sight of God—God says such believers are wealthy or filthy rich!
God wants you to prosper in every way! Our human nature does not like a failure; hope deferred makes our hearts sick. I have been perplexed, sometimes astounded, by how hard it was for me to finally believe that God wants His people to prosper. Did you ever realize that it is easier for us to believe that God wants us to go through hardship for some “super-spiritual divine purpose” than He wants people to prosper? Our view of God’s nature and who He is has been “messed up” by religion, and we need a thorough renewal of our minds.
Today, you need not worry about prosperity, for it is clearly God’s will. Instead, watch out for the so-called prosperity “teaching,” “Gospel,” or “movement,” which comes with multiple problems. First, it takes financial prosperity( part of true biblical prosperity) and blows it out of proportion as though Christ primarily came to make people financially rich. Second, this twisted Gospel fuels a disturbing manifestation of greed in God’s house, turning believers into money-making machines( 2 Pet. 2:3). Third, prosperity is now one of the fastest ways of building a “rapidly growing ministry” in which Satan and false ministers are availing themselves of the opportunity. Tell believers you have a successful strategy for prosperity or breakthrough miracles, and your Church might run out of seats overnight!
However, we must not reject God’s idea of prosperity, clearly revealed in the scriptures, because prosperity is misused and abused. Prosperity is biblical, as long as we speak the same language as the Lord. He wants you to prosper—receive all of His prosperity!
What is prosperity as described in the Bible?
Apply the Word
I say this with my heart—believe that God truly wants you to prosper. Your all-around prosperity begins by accepting this truth and understanding prosperity the God-way.
Ask the Father to prosper the works of our hands and the conditions of our lives!
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