Financial increase is a result of prosperity, but prosperity is in no way a result of financial increase. It is something I am at the moment struggling to find an expression for that quite captures this essence but something I hope this series of posts will address. In another manner of speaking, prosperity strictly speaking often gives birth to financial increase; but financial increase is not prosperity.
It of course does not help that the Oxford dictionary defines prosper as “being successful, especially in making money” because that only then fuels the notion that biblical prosperity is all about money and with it both proponents and detractors of a so-called prosperity gospel that really does nothing but more often than not lead to people on both sides of the coin missing out on the plan of God for their lives. In addition, my normal go-to tool, my PC Study Bible does not seem to have a lot on the topic; something rather ironic given that a mish-mash of the understanding of prosperity is rather prevalent in the church as well; however, it does in one of the tools list a number of Greek and Hebrew words (the original translations) that are translated into the English word prosper or the noun form prosperity. With my rather non-existent expertise in ancient languages, I counted at least 18 different Hebrew words that mean prosperity with variations on the connotations of these words ranging from to build up to even one that is also rendered perfection.
Don’t ask me to go deeper into these languages and word roots; I cannot. But what it simply does is show us that the reality is what I am trying to hit home that prosperity is not merely defined as financial increase but that financial increase is but only a single facet or as earlier alluded a result of prosperity. I think the use of examples best illustrates what I mean and the example I want to focus on before finally attempting to come up with a final definition of prosperity at some point is Joseph; and maybe Jacob. The bible describes Joseph as prospering both in the house of Potiphar, and in the prison cell in the sense where everything he touched went well. I imagine if he had to take care of a bed of plants, he did it with such diligence and care and that the blessing of the Lord rested on the work of his hands in such a manner that the results of that bed of plants would be more fruitful than anyone could imagine. I imagine that when he had to take care of animals, the result would be healthy, strong animals full of vitality and as clean as could be attained to the point where Potiphar realised that whatever Joseph was responsible for ended up going well. This did result in Him being promoted but I want you to realise that this only came as a result of the work of Joseph’s hands PROSPERING. In the prison, it implies Joseph was asked and tasked to lead the prisoners and things went well. It went well to the point where the guard did not bother with much and basically, like Potiphar left it all to Joseph. The Bible describes Joseph in this situation as prospering.
He was still a prisoner in the latter case and a slave in the latter yet God calls Joseph a man who prospered. This paved a way for Joseph to be elevated to a place where He was at the apex of the state, with financial riches, palaces and servants and second only to Pharaoh. It is the latter part unfortunately that has come to be identified as prosperity and we have missed it; because where the story of Joseph tells us that prosperity is more like the footprint of a believer that you leave on everything you do, we are blinded by lust and confine it to only the part where God lifts you up to a position where you are high and exalted in the eyes of men by your wealth and your status.
This by the way is not an attempt to say that it is the will of God for anyone to be in poverty or slavery; both are ills but rather to bring us to a place where we realise that biblical prosperity is not a fight where we have to grapple God and badger him with incessant requests for material blessing; but that it is something He wants us to have almost in the manner of giving us a blank check on it. We just have to define it properly and also understand that God is a father and the more you read on the examples of the guys who have gone before us, the more you realise it is not even a question with God about whether or not He wants to provide our material needs. And to clarify what I mean by provide, another illustration: God is not the administrator of an orphanage making sure you get 2 or 3 meals a day and a cot to sleep on, He is the best, the richest and the strongest Father one could ever have who is totally devoted to you.
I feel I have lost a bit of coherence in what I have been writing but I think my message will get through by the grace of God. And to throw in Jacob as well. I think I would need a few more posts on him as revelation has altered my thoughts on him from a man of true love to more really of a hopeless romantic a little short of wisdom to start with. But back to the story and my point today; prosperity is better thought of as the capacity to flourish and excel or do valiantly wherever you are in life, as the capacity to not just turn up at the job or chore you have, but the ability to do it extremely well to the point where what you are responsible for has little to no room for improvement. And by the way, all this happens with you possessing peace of mind, not because you are sleeping 2 hours a night and only awake because triple strength coffee exists.
Selah. 1000 words. I think I must end here, but I will definitely continue with more on prosperity in my next post. May the grace of God continue to keep you in peace and wellness of mind always. Amen.