December 16, 2014


            What does it mean to prosper?  In our materialistic age the word “prosperity” has taken on a meaning that it never had for our  forefathers.  It is almost as though the word is now spelled “pro$perity.”  People measure prosperity in terms of wealth.

God promises prosperity to his people, but the words used in the Bible for prosperity most often had little to do with material possessions.  Perry Stone, in his book “Breaking The Jewish Code” says, “The common Hebrew word for prosper is tsalach and can mean to come out, go through, and accomplish success.”[1]  Here are a few examples:

The Palestinian covenant given to Israel included prosperity.  Deuteronomy 29:9 says, “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.”  The word used in this verse meant “to have good success, made to understand, be circumspect, hence intelligent.” The same word is used in Joshua 1:7-8.  “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.   This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

The word “prosper” occurs in Psalm 1:3.  “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The word for prosper used here means “to push forward.” The tree pushes forth its leaves and fruit.  A Man reaches his goal.

In the New Testament the word prosper appears three times.

Romans 1:10 – “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.”

I Corinthians 16:2 – “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

III John 2 – “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even      as thy soul prospereth.”   In each of these versus the same Greek word is used.  It means “to keep on the road, to succeed.”

Biblical insight teaches us to set goals for life that are more noble than just the accumulation of wealth.  Luke 12:15 says, “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” In Bible times Solomon was the richest man who had ever lived.  I Kings chapter four tells us about his wealth. Verses 26-27 give us an idea of its extent.  “And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.    And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.”  Yet I Kings 4:29 says “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.” Could it not be that Solomon’s prosperity consisted more in his wisdom than in his wealth? King Solomon wrote the little book of Ecclesiastes.  It deals with the vanities of life.  His conclusion is found in the last two verses that say, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.    For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

Prosperity needs to be thought of over the long term. You may make an investment and make a profit from it.  That is short term prosperity.  A few weeks later you may reinvest the profit from that first investment and take a great loss.

Prosperity should include both the positive and the negative.  On the negative side we might find a man who says, “I have lived my life without being a slave to sin.  I have never had any addictions.  I have never been guilty of any of the flagrant sins.  I have been victorious over sin.”  That’s something to be grateful for, but what has he done?  Has he made the world a better place in which to live?  Has he relieved the suffering?  Has he given direction and counsel to the wayward?  Has he helped some to come to the knowledge of salvation?  Has he set an example for his family and others to follow?

It is a great consolation for people, when they reach old age, to be able to look back and say, “God has prospered me.  My life has not been in vain.”  To be able to say that when you reach old age, you need to make the Bible your text book to teach you how to prosper in life.  The book of Proverbs, in particular, has a vast amount of truth to offer you in making wise decisions.  Don’t neglect it.

Biblical prosperity is within the reach of all of us if we know God personally and are part of his family.  It is the culmination of a life surrendered to the will of God.  I Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  That is prosperity!

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[1] P. 165


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