Yesterday at LCC I had the privilege of talking about a topic that is just as controversial and unbelievable as it is true. I discussed the Biblical promise that God wants his people to be prosperous.
Nevertheless, I am not one of those preachers who proclaims that God wants his people to be Wealthy and Healthy and all we need to do is jump on the bandwagon of positive thoughts, so it was important to me that we dig into what the Bible actually has to say about prosperity.
In light of that, I wanted to post here what I’m calling the Seven Keys to Biblical Prosperity. We’ll take a few days to get through this. Each day we’ll address a few relevant passages from the Bible and a few principles learned from those passages. To see all the posts in this series, check out the SKTBP tag.
1. Cultivate a Trust and Obey Perspective on the Bible
The first and most important key to biblical prosperity comes from the commands God gives his people in Deuteronomy 15. Here are a few verses from that chapter:
However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you. — Deuteronomy 15:4-6
Many other passages in the Bible echo this teaching, but we will cover a number of them in the following principles, so for now, let’s just focus on this one passage.
It’s important to note that God sets his ideal before the people that there should be no poor among them. We need to recognize that God’s ideal is for the elimination of poverty. His ideal is for his people to be so richly blessed that they will never need to borrow from any other nation.
This is important, because for God to be the complete and total authority in the lives of the people of Israel, he must make sure they are never given in slavery to another. For God to be the total authority, the people cannot be servants of any other nation either physically or financially. God promises blessing that is rich enough for them to be lenders and never borrowers, but the pre-requisite is that the people “fully obey” and “are careful to follow all these commands.”
All of God’s promises of blessing follow after careful obedience and full devotion to God’s Word. Therefore, the first and most important principle of Biblical prosperity is that a person be willing to completely trust and completely obey the teaching of the Bible even if the teaching doesn’t seem to be completely relevant or completely understandable.
The promise of prosperity is totally absent unless the Word of God is totally followed.
2. Steward with Generosity
In Christian circles, the word stewardship is thrown around whenever the topic turns to money. That’s because the Bible teaches that everything belongs to God and we are simply stewards or managers of his resources.
Usually, though, Christian Stewardship gets defined to mean primarily three things: tithing (the practice of giving 10% or more of your income to the church), restraining spending, and staying out of debt.
Those are exceptional lessons for people who want to live prosperous lives, and we will certainly cover them later, but this concept of stewardship can sometimes be warped into a tightfisted attitude toward our savings. Christians who understand stewardship are often taught to think about the money they are saving so that if they come upon rough times, they will be able to take care of themselves.
I certainly don’t disagree with any of that except to the extent that a focus on my personal savings account might make me tightfisted toward the poor.
Let’s keep reading in Deuteronomy 15.
If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. — Deuteronomy 15:7-11
Though God’s ideal is that there be no poor in the land, he also recognizes that there will be times when an individual person is faced with the circumstance of poverty, and here we see the second most important principle in the Bible regarding prosperity.
God gives more to those who give to the poor.
Notice specifically that if we condense the verses, we read this:
If there is a poor man… do not… give him nothing…. You will be found guilty of sin… Give generously… the LORD your God will bless you.
To be tightfisted toward a needy person is to be guilty of sin, but to be joyfully generous to him will unlock God’s blessing!
This is a challenge to those of us who have been brought up on Christian stewardship principles. According to this verse, the best investment we can make is not to store our wealth into savings, but to share our wealth into the lives of the poor. Of course, God encourages people to be wise and to store up provisions for themselves (Proverbs 6:6-8). But he also warns those who would store up for themselves without caring for the poor (Micah 6:14).
Check back tomorrow for the next two principles.