Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Scandal of Prosperity

Let the LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. (Psalm 35:27)
God has pleasure in the prosperity of His people. But oddly, some of God’s people are scandalized by that teaching. Oh, they are okay about having prosperity for themselves, but they get offended when someone says that God’s will and desire is for all His people to enjoy prosperity. It goes against years of training they have had in the world, and in church teaching influenced by the world — that faith is uncertain, and you never know what God is going to do, that God is out to get you and will make you sick and broke to teach you a lesson.

They ignore God’s continual desire, repeated often in Scripture, to bless His people — not just a little, but a lot, in fact, abundantly (without boundaries). They know the 23rd Psalm: The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want (be in lack), He makes me lie down in green pastures, He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over. But for them, that is about when we die and go to heaven — never mind the fact that He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. There are no enemies in heaven, so Psalm 23 is a picture of what God desires for His people in this life.

God is not a respecter of persons. What He does for one He desires to do for another. Psalm 23 is for all of us, not just for David and a select few.

A couple of decades ago, many Christians, even pastors, were appalled when Oral Roberts began to teach that “God is a good God” and “Something good is going to happen.”

Then, a few years ago, when Bruce Wilkinson came out with his book on The Prayer of Jabez, many people were scandalized again. How dare he suggest that we can ask God to bless us big, and then expect to receive it!

These same people are once again offended by Joel Osteen’s new book, Your Best Life Now, because he teaches that God wants to bless and prosper His people.

But the Bible portrays the wild extravagance of God toward His people. Look, for example in Deuteronomy 6:
So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — when you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
That is God’s idea of blessing on the earth. Notice that the caution is not against prosperity, but against ingratitude. God is not against us having things, but only against things having us and causing us to forget Him.

Now, some will say, “Yeah, but that was for Israel, under the old Mosaic Covenant.” But the New Testament does not do away with the Old Testament. Rather, the New Testament fulfills the Old. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

Instead of being outraged, offended, and scandalized by the abundance of prosperity and blessing God desires towards us, let us lay hold of it by faith, and affirm with David, “Let the LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”

God wants to bless and prosper you. Believe it in your heart, confess it with your mouth, and gratefully receive all He has for you, that you might be both blessed and a blessing to all those around you.

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