Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Secret of Prosperity - Part 2 of 4

I believe that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are meant to have prosperity and an abundant life. By prosperity I mean "a successful, flourishing or thriving condition." Let's look briefly at some of the true universal benefits of the gospel/abundant life (given liberally to all who believe). Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (the fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-23). "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). This list is really only the beginning, but is all of this not enough for some?! The true blessings of the gospel are all and everything that we need, for now and for eternity!

The secret of prosperity, as I've come to know it, is being content with what we have, whether we have an abundance of earthly possessions or not. Whether we have a lot of money or not. Whether we have a new car or an old beater. Whether we live in a mansion or an old shack. This is not "small thinking." To me, this is getting to the root of true prosperity! Am I the only one who feels this way? I know I'm not! The Apostle Paul's epistles are chock full of the truth of the gospel, and not once did he say that a benefit of the gospel is worldly prosperity! In fact, this great gospel expositor made a great case for being content (feeling happy, satisfied, filled, fulfilled, prospered) no matter what we have or don't have!

After showing how he was thankful to the Lord for providing for him through the Philippians, he said, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:11-13). This doesn't sound like a man who looked at earthly riches as a benefit of Christ's gospel and of being a beloved child of God.

I truly think that the secret to true prosperity in Christ is found in all of this. It's something that Paul had learned. As an apostle, and as God's messenger to so many places and so many people with the message of the gospel of grace and peace, Paul had been through a lot of stuff! He knew what he was talking about. The man knew the gospel! He didn't go around saying, "Through the gospel and through all my experiences, I have learned that because I'm God's child He wills to bless me abundantly with all kinds of wonderful things." What he had actually learned was that no matter what his circumstances, he was perfectly blessed and he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength.

Jesus Himself revealed the 'secret' of true prosperity. The very same Jesus who said, "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10) also said, "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (Luke 12:15) and "do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves to not break in and steal." I don't take any of this to mean that a person can't have earthly possessions, or even an abundance of possessions. But when putting all of this together, it seems to me that true prosperity and abundant life does not consist of how much we have or don't have here on earth.

The secret is found in knowing all that we do have in Christ - and it's A LOT - and in being content (feeling happy, satisfied, filled, fulfilled, prospered) no matter what our earthly circumstances.

The Secret of Prosperity Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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