My Thoughts on the Prosperity Gospel

Someone recently (and anonymously) told me that I complain about money troubles and hardship.  This person also added that “God wants you to prosper but you seem to think he doesnt so instead of changing things you just accept the way they are and complain about it daily.”

I think I know where this person got this idea about God wanting me to prosper.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

There is a “prosperity gospel” that some churches teach to their parishioners.  A definition of this prosperity gospel, according to the World English Dictionary  is as follows:

a modern version or, according to some, perversion of the gospel according to which the full blessings of God available to those who approach Him in faith and obedience include wealth, health and power

This idea is quite frightening and, in my opinion, quite damaging to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Check out this video:

I think this guy is absolutely right.  How often does the apostle Paul talk about suffering for Christ.  Look at 2 Corinthians 11:24-27:

24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.

26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;

27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Does any of that sound like health, wealth or power?  I don’t think so.  Paul even endured a “thorn in his side” that he begged God to remove (2 Corinthians 12:7-8) but God’s answer to him was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a) which changed Pauls heart to one of acceptance of his suffering.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10, he says:

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(And I can certainly understand the concept of a “thorn in the side” having been needing to hobble around with a cane for the last 12 years because of whatever is wrong with my back and leg.)

This is the truth of living a life with Christ.  Life does not become a bed of roses or a bowl of cherries or whatever cliché you like best.  What it does become is life abundant (John 10:10).  And that does not mean that you become wealthy.  Life in Christ is so much more than money, which, by the way, God does look after for you.  I know this from experience.  I lived for years on very little when I was a single mother.  That was when I gave my life back to God and even tithed ten percent of my meager finances.  When I began giving back to God faithfully, He rewarded me in such a way I still can’t wrap my head around it.  I was living on less (because I was tithing) but I had so much more.  My bills were getting paid and there was always food on the table and sometimes there was money left over to take my kids out with.

That sounds like prosperity to me.

The word prosperous is synonymous with success.  But success does not mean wealth.  If you think it does, then you are praying to the wrong god.  Jesus, himself, said that it was easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 19:24).  I do not want wealth.  I know if I had it I would take my eyes off God and I don’t want to ever do that again.  I think God knows very well my weaknesses in pride and that’s why my “prosperity” has never been in the area of wealth.

But, perhaps this person is correct and I have been complaining about our financial difficulties (I don’t recall doing it much, certainly not daily, but I could be mistaken).  I shouldn’t be complaining, and I will work harder to keep my faith in God’s grace and His provision for His children (see Matthew 6:25-34)

I know God wants me to prosper.  He is my loving Heavenly Father and He cares for me and loves me in a way that I couldn’t possibly understand.  I stumbled quite badly some time ago and have been in a battle against the enemy that I am finally starting to win, only because I have been relearning to rely on the strength of my Master.

I like the more literal translation of the New American Standard Bible of the Jeremiah 29:11 passage:

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Plans for welfare which is synonymous with contentment or well-being; to give me a future and a hope which will not necessarily mean health, wealth, or power.

And I am totally okay with that.


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One Response to My Thoughts on the Prosperity Gospel

  1. Erwin Epp says:

    Yeah! I agree with you on this. I also agree with the video. When I first heard about this prosperity gospel, I immediately thought about my dad. My dad’s christianity was absolutely real. What he preached from the pulpit on Sunday he lived from Monday to Saturday. Over 32 years of living on the farm he could not manage to pay off an $800.00 mortgage. Some years he managed to pay off the interest only but none of the principle. But the reward that was waiting for him in heaven, I think was huge.

    Like the apostle Paul, since 2004 I have a thorn in the side that no one seems to be able to get rid of. I want to be a Christian witness like my father was but I have no idea whether I’m close or not. So, I have never been wealthy according to the standards of most of North America, but I have never starved and have always had a roof over my head and a place where my children could grow up, at least in relative safety.

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