Perspective on Prosperity

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.  Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

3 John 1:1‭-‬4 NASB

Over the years I've heard several prosperity ministers try to show that this scripture is saying God desires that His people would be financially prosperous. I personally struggle to see this in these verses. To me the writer of this letter was merely saying he was wishing the reader of the letter well, a good life, I hope things go great for you, that kind of thing. I recently listened to someone speak, using these verses, who didn't  sound quite as extreme but I still struggled just a little, even about what he said.

He said he was struggling financially and was getting very frustrated by it so he talked with a financially successful Christian friend and asked him to mentor him on how to be successful. This friend told him to draw a circle around his feet and place everything that he was committed to inside that circle, family, food, home, bills, tithe, and anything important that depended on his resources in order to take care of these things. This is where you spend your money first, he said, and continue building up those things only till they are taken care of. After that is taken care of then you can start adding to the circle and in time will be able to help others and still be financially successful.  He said it worked and he is now able to travel with his wife around the world as a missionary and has no trouble with his finances. Before he would try to help someone while struggling to pay his own bills and could never seem to get anywhere but now He could pay his bills and help others as well as travel all around the world with plenty of money to take care of everything.

I can see how you need to be careful in helping out others with money. It needs to be done as God directs so that you aren't just enabling them. But many times I have had people help me, especially when I was first getting started and I have tried to do the same for others even when I didn't necessarily have any extra to give. God has always supplied everything I needed. That doesn't mean I should be foolish with my spending, but God says in scripture that the sparrows have food to eat and we are much more important to him than the sparrow so He will take care of us even more than He does the sparrows. I always felt as long as I was warm, had food and a place to sleep, I was being well taken care of. So far that has always been the case. Well except maybe the warm part. Maybe in this persons case, God was trying to get him to change so he would be able to do greater things like traveling as a missionary and helping others financially.

For me, I'm  thinking that just focusing on helping others right here where I live and trusting God to take care of everything is all I'm being asked to do. I do know God works differently in each of our lives and asks us to do different things and in different ways.  Another thing I thought about is maybe we have all drawn circles around us at one time and put what we felt we were committed to inside that circle, the difference is that some of us start out with larger circles and put more in them, trusting that God will provide for all we need and all He wants us to do. Whatever the case, this life is just too short for me to want or expect to have a lot of money or things. My interest is in my eternal life. What is important to me now is that I am able to help others with the talents God has given me and know He will take care of all my needs. Thinking about it in this way, I feel like He has prospered me greatly. Life has been great.

by Ken Edgerly

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