Does God want you to prosper? Yes. But in the current culture, such truths bring about a fair amount of nervous twitching. Twitching that comes from confusion and a blurring of truth and error.
Some are taught to feel guilt over their lack of faith. “You’re poor because don’t believe”. Others are taught to feel guilt over their honestly-earned wealth “It’s wrong for you to have wealth when others have nothing”.
Money can and does lead to all kinds of sin. But the two are not synonymous. There is an important distinction to be made between money and our sinful appetites.
Evil lies in the heart, always in the heart (James 1:14-17) and we are not to fall into the superstitious trap of believing in the magic of things. Evil does not lie in things.
Being the sinners that we are, we are not only good at sinning, we are good at disguising our sin.
There are at least two ways you can love money in a way that is sinful, and sinful in disguise. One is the “Judas way” (John 12:6). This is where your love of money is disguised as a love of charity. The other is where your love of money is disguised as a love of hard work (Proverbs 23:4).
And yes, lazy people love money too.
The craving of the slacker kills him because his hands refuse to work. All-day long he covets more, but the righteous give without restraint. (Proverbs 21:25-26)
Rich or poor, prosperity and wealth are not the demons. Envy and greed are, and the poor are just as capable of envy as the rich.
God’s desire is that you prosper. That you be rich in good works, materially content and that the work of your hands, done in faith, be worthy of a blessing.
These promises were foreshadowed in Abraham.
I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring.. and your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies (Genesis 22:17)
And fulfilled in Jesus.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:8)
For all those following Jesus.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
He does this, we are told, in order to establish and confirm His covenant.
You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
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How does God prosper His people and bring about their increase?
First, prosperity is tied to faithfulness. God prospers us by blessing the work of obedient hands. The Bible calls us to dig copper, plant vineyards, raise cattle and make beer in obedience to God’s law-word.
The curse for disobedience would be manifest in an impoverished and frustrated people. The blessings of an obedient people would be increased prosperity and contentment.
And because God’s interest is the increase of His glory and establishing His Covenant for the joy of all nations, that obedience to His word would also lead to a wonderful witness (Deuteronomy 4:6).
Secondly, prosperity is a gift of God tied to Sabbath blessings (Leviticus 25:20-21). In Leviticus, those sabbath blessings are extended to the extraordinary productivity of the land.
The Sabbath requires rest in the Lord because He redeemed us and it’s God who gives the power to get wealth. Sabbath rest is the confident rest of heirs who know that their inheritance in the Lord is secure.
The faithful know that prosperity never rests in the hands of man and what man is able to accomplish, but what God can accomplish.
And so, as a reflection of Sabbath rest, we find God blessing his people even while we sleep.
We see this principle of sleep and increase in Psalm 127:1-2, in the parable of the scattered seed (Mark 4:26) and the promise of wealth that came by night to Solomon while he slept (1 Kings 3:5, 12-13, 15).
Here we learn that in God the end result is greater than the amount of work and faithfulness invested by man. This is the message of grace offered to us in the gospel.
While Jesus slept the sleep of death, God was gathering the world into His hands ready as an inheritance for His Son.
There, death – that which was considered a curse – becomes a preparation for ultimate blessing and prosperity for Jesus and all who are with Him.
And because we were also dead during the whole thing, we are never so arrogant as to say,
My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:17)
Whatever blessings we may receive in this age are given to confirm His promise to us in the gospel. And that promise is that it’s in the sleep of death that we pass from death to life with Christ at the resurrection and awaken to find that the world has become our inheritance.