The Prosperity of the Wise

by Lester Young

Today, let’s spend a few moments talking about prosperity, which even now continues to be a rather dirty word in some ‘spiritual’ circles. But please take note of the fact that I didn’t say, “Let’s talk about money;” I said, “Let’s talk about ‘prosperity.'” And that, I suspect, is a large part of the problem, because those two terms and the concepts behind them are not actually fully interchangeable at all times. However, it seems that when anyone who’s perceived to have anything to do with the ‘religious’ community mentions the word ‘prosperity,’ it’s automatically assumed that he or she is referring specifically to money – and I suppose, to be honest, that’s often turned out to be the case.

Nevertheless, here’s a question that should be worth pondering: “Is God prosperous?” What would your opinion be? Well, in order to even try to offer a rational answer to such a query, it would obviously be necessary for us to have an accurate definition of that word ‘prosperity.’ To prosper means to be successful or fortunate, to thrive or to flourish (especially – but not exclusively – with regard to financial matters). Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary says “to push forward;” while its Greek counterpart defines ‘prosper’ as “to help along the road, or to succeed in reaching (again, especially – but not exclusively – in business affairs).” Gleaning the tones of these various renderings, I believe we can safely combine them to say that prospering generally means “progressing and being successful” – which actually sounds about right. So, armed with this ‘working’ definition, let’s again ask the question, “Is God prosperous?”

Now, even without going through those motions, we could probably intuitively conclude that God is prosperous. I mean, why wouldn’t he be – He’s God, right? But the point of the exercise is that we don’t have to rely on just our own ‘opinion’ or intuition about the heavenly Father. We can go to His Book and get a much more sure, stable and trustworthy Word about Him (2 Peter 1:19). Since He’s the God – the Giver and ultimate Source – of Peace (and the definition and concept of ‘peace’ in the Hebrew language [shalowm] encompasses all of man’s welfare; including safety, health and prosperity), then He has to be the God of prosperity, too (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 15:33; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20-21). And since it stands to reason that One cannot give what one does not possess, God must indeed be prosperous (Psalm 29:11, 118:25).

“Well, of course God’s prosperous! He made everything, so it all belongs to Him.” True, but I’m not talking specifically about material goods here. Therefore, a more accurately targeted question might be, “How is God prosperous?” Since we’re supposed to follow and imitate Him, that piece of information might be somewhat important to us (Ephesians 5:1). As always, the Bible paints a perfect instructional picture for us.

The Scripture called Joseph “a prosperous man” (Genesis 39:2). Now, mind you, this was right after he got sold to someone as a slave, even before he’d had a chance to prove his worth to his buyer. Why was he described in this manner? Well, if you recall, the LORD had told Joseph in dreams that he would one day be a person of great authority and dominion, and that revelation had a profound impact on his thinking as it molded his soul – his mind, will and emotions. He believed what God had told him and never forgot it, and consequently God was always with him (Genesis 39:2-3). As a result of this God-given inner perception of himself as a ‘ruler,’ in whatever circumstances he found himself Joseph always wound up being on top and in charge of the area he was physically located in!

God had prospered Joseph’s soul. Even though he literally owned no more than the clothes on his back, Joseph’s mind was entrenched in God’s promise to him, and based on that Word his soul was already moving forward and progressing toward success. He refused to let the negative circumstances that confined his physical freedom to restrict his thinking, nor did he allow his perceptions to be limited to those of failure, abandonment or self-pity. No; God told him he’d be on top, and that’s just where he continually rose to, whether as a slave, a prisoner in jail or the second-in-command of the entire country of Egypt (Genesis 39:4, 22; 41:40-41).

That’s God’s preferred method for prospering His people. It’s the same way He desires to prosper us today. The Apostle John described the process like this: “Beloved, my greatest desire is that you prosper [in every way] and be in good health, exactly [to the same degree] as your soul is prospering” (3 John 2 paraphrased). Put another way: God can prosper you no higher than the level at which your soul is currently prospering. That’s why Isaiah 55:2 exhorts us to spend our sincerest efforts on diligently listening to and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ, gorging ourselves on His Word – the promises of God – and just letting our souls get fat in all that Goodness. In other words, take His promises and just start audaciously thinking big with them! Crash through those boundary fences in your mind – because, after all, if you can think it, God can do a whole lot more that! (Ephesians 3:20)

God’s way of prosperity is so wonderful in that it can’t be stopped by anyone other than ourselves, because it originates from within each of us. He designed it that way. When you employ His higher methods of operation instead of ‘how the world says to do it,’ no one can stop His plan for your life (Isaiah 55:7-11). Your boss, your government, The Man, Big Brother, the circumstances against you, the wrong side of the tracks, the other side of town, the dark side of the moon…it doesn’t matter. When your soul is prospering because it’s rooted in God’s Word, the fruit of that union is eventually going to be manifested, period (John 15:5). It’s God’s doing, and who or what is it that can actually oppose Him? (Acts 5:39)

It’s said that “the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32). But that’s not an indictment against prosperity; it’s an indictment against being a fool with it! So prosper wisely – let your soul progress and delight itself in the richness of God’s Word (Isaiah 55:2). And since we’ve been called to imitate our Lord, we know that’s got to be the way He prospers, too.

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