"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." Jeremiah 29:11
The author complains of Christians using the verse out of context to apply to their personal circumstances rather than viewing it in its biblical context. (Read the whole thing here.)
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While I think that the article has merit, in principal it bothered me. Why? Because I believe deep down that God really does want to prosper us.
The piece stuck with me, and my mind wrestled with it in the background as I went about my business.
Then, a few days ago, I came across a verse that seemed to confirm my presupposition.
What Would Solomon Say?
The verse comes from the book of Proverbs. If you have read this blog for long, you know that I have a fascination with king Solomon. He was the wisest man who ever lived yet let his lust for women split apart the nation of Israel. How's that for irony?
Regardless of his mistakes, he was undoubtedly wise (see: 1 Kings 4:29-34). The verse I came across was Proverbs 28:25:
The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper.
I was sitting at my kitchen table early one morning when I read that verse. And my mind immediately went back to the Relevant piece. There was that word again, "prosper." It's clear that God wants us to prosper, right?
How a Poor Man Can Be Prosperous
I am convinced that the answer is unequivocally, "Yes." But we need to distinguish between two different realms:
Those who read these types of passages only thinking in earthly terms miss the point entirely. . . of the whole Bible. Jesus himself said, "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Mat. 6:20).
That said, I do think that God wants to proser us on earth as well, but only as much as we can handle.
God blessed Hezekiah, Abraham, Isaac, David and many others with crazy wealth because of their faithfulness. But God does not call all of us to earthly prosperity (and run far away from any preacher who tells you He does). Remember the rich man? Jesus said,
“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." Mark 10:21
Jesus knew that by giving away his wealth, he would store up for himself treasures in heaven.
God knows what's best for you, and He is far more concerned with prospering you in heaven than on earth. For some, that means riches on earth, for some it doesn't.
The Real Way to Prosper
The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
Solomon makes an interesting contrast: you can't be greedy and trust in the LORD. Instead the greedy make money their god, their pursuit. They may succeed in getting wealth on earth, but will they prosper?
I think not.
Those who trust in God will prosper in the only thing that matters: eternity. Will they prosper in material things? Some will, some won't. But rest assured that God knows what's best for you.
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