I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I wish my blog readership was bigger, my church had more people, my book sales were greater, my home was nicer, my car was flashier, my wardrobe was more fashionable, my salary was larger, and my bank account was more impressive. Does that shock you? It shouldn’t. After all, I’m an American, and Americans are supposed to be winners, right? I’m also a Christian, and every prosperity-preaching preacher who comes across my t.v. screen tells me that I’m living beneath my privilege in Christ, or not doing something right, if I’m not prosperous in everything I do.
And then there are those Bible verses that seem to verify what those preachers teach. For example, consider the following:
1. Psalm 1:3 (describing the godly man): And whatever he does shall prosper.
2. Joshua 1:7 (God speaking to Joshua): “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”
3. 1 Kings 2:3 (David speaking to Solomon): “And keep charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”
4. 2 Chronicles 26:5 (of Judah’s King Uzziah): He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.
5. Nehemiah 2:20 (Nehemiah speaking of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem): “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us…”
6. Psalm 122:6: …May they prosper who love you, peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.
7. 3 John v.2: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
These verses certainly seem to create an airtight case that faithful and obedient service to the Lord leads to prosperity, don’t they? And guess what, I don’t necessarily disagree with that conclusion. What I do disagree with is the assumption that “prosperity” always equates to big numbers, nice things, and a lot of money. I’m not denying that it can equate to these things; I’m simply saying that it doesn’t automatically have to equate to them. The fact is, the Bible’s definition of “prospering” is different than the world’s definition of it.
The classic case here is Joseph. There he was, a slave in Egypt, serving in the home of Potiphar. He had been betrayed by his brothers, sold into bondage, and carried out of his homeland. He had no money, possessions, wife, children, or standing in the community. As a matter of fact, you’d have been hard pressed to find anybody on a lower rung of life’s ladder. And yet, Genesis 39:2-3 says of him during that time:
And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. (K.J.V.)
Obviously, God’s view of being a prosperous person isn’t the same as the world’s view, is it? Somewhere along the way I picked up the following quote and stuck it in my files:
Success from God’s perspective is the continuing achievement of being the person He wants you to become and accomplishing the goals He has helped you establish.
I especially like that part about goals that God has helped me establish. I don’t mind saying that I’ve got some of those. I have a God-given goal of continuing to be a good husband to Tonya. I have a God-given goal of finishing strong in raising Ryan and Royce. I have a God-given goal of leading Disciples Road Church to a place of greater stability and fruit-production. I have a God-given goal of continuing to write posts for this blog. I have a God-given goal of completing the renovation of our older house. There are more that I could name, but that’s enough to make my point. And if I can get my God-given goals accomplished, I’ll be a prosperous man in the eyes of God regardless of whether or not I ever pastor a mega-church, become a best-selling author, make a six-figure salary, live in a mansion, drive a Porsche, or wear Italian suits.
Now, why did the Lord lead me to write this post today? I figure it’s because some Christian out there reading it is feeling like something of a failure because worldly success continues to elude them. So, if you are that Christian, please listen to me: If you are faithfully plodding along, working toward the accomplishment of certain goals that God has helped you establish and that are His will for your life, He classifies you as being a prosperous person right now right where you are. Am I saying that just to make you feel better? No, I’m saying it because it’s the truth. So keep on keeping on with what you are doing there in your Potiphar’s house and let the Lord be the judge of what kind of a mark you are making in life and just how “prosperous” you really are.