Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed. 1 Chronicles 22:11-13
David Van Biema and Jeff Chu, writing for Time Magazine on September 10, 2006 addressed the controversy surrounding prosperity gospel in their piece titled, “Does God Want You to Be Rich?” They write that the, “Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology,” is the, “new good news,” that their followers believe, “God doesn’t want us to wait [for].” The article continues, “It suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10:10: ‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’ In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.”
This kind of prosperity doctrine begins to unravel when we consider that the supposed leader of the movement, Jesus the Christ, was (for our sakes) a poor man. He willingly gave up His heavenly riches, was born in a stable to a poor mom and step-dad, toiled as a carpenter, considered Himself a servant, and proclaimed homelessness to His followers. Yet, in spite of His poverty, He was the most blessed man who ever walked the earth.
What’s the deal? There is a difference between Christ’s wealth and the assets associated with the prosperity movement of today. Jesus was, and still is sold-out entirely for His Father. I’m not seeing that with the prosperous ‘Word-of-Faith-ers.’ Jesus kept nothing for Himself, but gave all He had for Dad’s honor and for our benefit; not His own. Jesus gave back entirely that which He received as an obedient gesture to the Father, thus giving Him all the glory. Just as Jesus said of the Holy Spirit that, “He will glorify Me” and “He will bear witness about Me,” Christ’s sole purpose was to magnify the Father and do His will. Jesus truly was about His Father’s business. Our Lord makes known that there is a divine purpose for prosperity.
And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13
Recognize how the 1 Chronicles 22 passage supports our Lord and Savior’s position and how it further implies there are two types of prosperity: that which is God-centered and that which is self-centered. The verse reveals that Godly prosperity begins with prayer, that it’s given for a divine purpose, and maintaining it is provisional. Provisional? Yes. That’s not to say it will be taken away necessarily (we know that not to be the case), but rather it might very will be the thing that brings about a person’s destruction.
Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:20
Look around at the ‘Name-it-and-claim-it’ clan. Where do they live, what do they drive, and what are they wearing? They might be all about Jesus on Sunday morning, but what does the rest of the week say about their loyalties? What would their checkbooks reveal about their faithfulness? Do they claim their prosperity as an entitlement or the vehicle by which they might further the Kingdom of God? Listen to their message and look at their fruit—what is the Holy Spirit telling you? Beware those who would tell you that your best life is available now.
However, if you find yourself prospering, you should know the reason why. There is a true prosperity doctrine and a false one. Don’t be led astray. The manner in which you walk is determined by which side of the aisle you stand. Know that the blessings of God are a curse to those who would hoard and use them selfishly.