I’ve written in the past about the problems with the “prosperity gospel”. But something I haven’t done is discuss God’s purpose for Christian prosperity. God does want to bless us, but it’s not so we can waste that wealth on lavishly pampering ourselves. He has a specific purpose for prospering Christians and we can find that purpose in His Word.
God Prospers Us To Meet Our Needs
God blesses us to meet our physical needs. Christ promised us that God knows what we need and He is happy to provide it, but we should seek His Kingdom first instead of worrying ourselves to death about those needs.
31 “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:31-33 (WEB)
We should have faith that God will provide for our needs as we seek His kingdom. This is something I struggle with myself, for Jesus’ words here are difficult to follow despite the freedom they offer. Our weak flesh leads us to worry even though Jesus has promised that God will meet our needs. We must remember that God desires and has the power to meet our needs. He has given us eternal life in Christ, and He will not withhold what we need when we seek Him.
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (WEB)
God Prospers Us So We Can Give Generously
God also blesses us to meet our spiritual needs and the physical and spiritual needs of others. We see another purpose for prosperity clearly illustrated in the Bible – namely the purpose of generous giving.
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul is asking the Corinthian church to complete their desire to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering from a famine. He provides wonderful counsel for the Christians in Corinth about God’s ability to bless them so they can be a blessing:
7 Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor. His righteousness remains forever.”
10 Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; 11 you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For this service of giving that you perform not only makes up for lack among the saints, but abounds also through many givings of thanks to God; 13 seeing that through the proof given by this service, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the Good News of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all; 14 while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, yearn for you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Now thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:7-15 (WEB)
Paul explains to the Corinthians that God is able to meet all our needs so that we may focus on being generous and doing good things in His name. God prospers us so that we will have the opportunity to give generously. It is up to us to use that opportunity to honor Him instead of following the Worldly path of honoring ourselves.
Even though the “prosperity gospel” is false, there are small nuggets of truth in it that get warped into something ungodly. God desires to bless us so He can meet our needs – both physical and spiritual. But wealthy Christians are called not to merely go through life enjoying the wealth God has blessed them with but to use that wealth to honor God and help others.
When God makes Christians rich, it isn’t for our own benefit only – it’s so we can glorify His name by being obedient to our confession of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our response to that Good News should be unending thankfulness and amazing generosity. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!