Righteousness or prosperity?
I have read this passage in Psalms many times, and always associated righteousness with holiness:
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
But the other day I was thinking about how holiness is something you would expect God to cause us to walk in for His sake. However, that verse just doesn’t sound right. The other time that stands out to me where God does something for His sake, is when He chose to forget our sins for His name sake. It was telling us that it was for His sake, because otherwise we would naturally think it was for our own sake. You wouldn’t think that His forgetting our sins would be for HIS sake… but that’s what it says!
But I felt the Lord leading me to do a little bit of research on the Hebrew root word behind ‘righteousness’ in this passage. What did I find?
“From H6663; the right (natural, moral or legal); also (abstractly) equity or (figuratively) prosperity: – X even, (X that which is altogether) just (-ice), ([un-]) right (-eous) (cause, -ly, -ness).”
Apparently, that word can mean more than holiness, but also prosperity. Now that makes more sense the way that the passage was worded. He forgives our sins for His sake, and He also causes us to walk in paths of prosperity for His sake as well. God’s Word tells us that He takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant (see Psalms 35:27), so this should come to no surprise to us. This is just the nature of our God!
Now let’s look at the context of this passage in Psalms 23. In verse 1 we read “I shall not want”, while verse 2 speaks of green or lush pastures, then in verse 5 we read about how “out cup runneth over.” Is this speaking of holiness, or prosperity? I think it’s talking about prosperity!
To help add weight to this interpretation, the Lord also turned my attention to Psalms 112, where it speaks of financial prosperity that He desires that we walk in:
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness [or prosperity?] endureth for ever.
There’s that same word righteousness, which I believe is clearly surrounded in a financial context. We’re talking about wealth and riches here in the same sentence!
The love of money is evil!
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:10
Now that we’ve broken down so many religious strongholds, I think it’s important to keep a balanced perspective on Biblical prosperity. God’s Word tells us that coveting is considered a sin right along side fornication, blasphemy, idolatry and so forth. God’s Word warns us that such people have no inheritance in the kingdom of God:
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
2 Timothy 3:2-4
God’s Word even goes on to tell us not to keep company with those who claim to be Christian, yet go around coveting the things of this world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
1 Corinthians 5:11
Then we’re given a warning that those who seek after riches will fall into temptation and a snare:
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich [meaning, those who desire to be rich] fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:7-9
Pursuing the things of this world will choke out the Word of God in a person’s life.
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
We also need to remember to store up our treasures in heaven, and not live greedily here on earth. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy financial abundance here on earth, but rather not to let it be the treasure of our heart.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
A treasure is something that is very important to us. I like how Kenneth Hagin said that we ought to take the things of the world lightheartedly. When they become treasures in our heart, that is where sin enters the picture, for the love of money is the root of all evil (see 1 Timothy 6:10).
In 1 Timothy, we are given the secret to keep ourselves from falling into these terrible snares; be thankful for what you have!
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
I’d like to wrap up these warnings with a solution on how God wants us to go about things:
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
When we put God first, and make the fear of the Lord our priority, then we are positioning ourselves for His blessing, and God’s Word tells us that it is His blessing that makes us rich (not the money). Not only does the Blessing make us rich, but there is no sorrow with it!
The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
So what does this blessing look like when it manifests in somebody’s life?
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
Satan seeks to hinder the church!
Toiling the earth for a living was a result of the CURSE of sin. It was not a blessing or something God intended Adam and Eve to experience. God’s heart was that Adam would not even have to work, but live a life of fellowship with Him, having his every need provided for.
Poor people are unable to financially support ministries and missions, where lives are impacted and changed for the sake of the kingdom. Poor ministers cannot afford expensive tickets to go on mission trips and preach the gospel to those in other countries. Poor churches cannot do much in terms of outreach ministries, because everything in this world costs money. Poor church members make for poor churches. Do you see why it is important for God’s people to have an abundance? So that they can be a blessing to the world around them, and sow into the kingdom to further the message of Christ and impact the lives of people around the world! We are told to go into all the world and share the gospel, but how is that going to happen if we’re slaving just to put food on our own tables, say nothing about buying a $2,000 plane ticket to visit Africa and share the good news with precious souls over there? And $2,000 is just the plane ticket, say nothing about all the other expenses involved. I’m telling you, God’s people are hindered for lack of money! If Satan can keep the church poor, then the church won’t be able to do all that God has called them to do. Poor people are unable to help others who are in financial need, they are unable to afford the travel costs and such of delivering the gospel to other countries, and the list goes on. The Bible speaks of God’s people giving generously, but that is just not possible when they don’t have enough themselves.
My partner Jay Bartlett has ministered not too long ago to somebody in a poor area, and the demon in that person came right out and boasted about how it’s intension was to keep the people in poverty in that city or area. This ought to come as no surprise to us because Jesus had made it clear that it is the enemy who came to steal, kill, and destroy. Might I add that Satan came to render the church ineffective and unable to reach and impact lives for the kingdom?
Some closing thoughts
It’s a false humility that stands behind this whole idea of God calling His church to be poor. False humility, not faith in God’s Word, is nothing more than dead religion and spiritual pride. You can drive a rust bucket and be proud of it (“hey folks, look at me, I’m giving up everything to serve Jesus!”) or you can drive a spanking new Cadillac and be humble and thankful in your heart for what God has blessed you with.
I make such a strong point of how God wants to prosper us, but I also want to clearly define true prosperity gospel before I close. Yes, God does want to prosper us, but He also doesn’t want us to covet (longing to have the things of this world) or seeking God so that we can be rich.
True prosperity gospel is not about being rich, but seeking first the kingdom of God, and then experiencing the favor and blessings of the Lord. God’s Word tells us that the blessing of the Lord makes us rich, and adds no sorrow to it (see Proverbs 10:22). The whole idea is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then receive the blessings of God that He wants to bestow upon us.
This is a multi-part teaching
- Prosperity Gospel Part 1
– Money itself is not evil; the love of it is
– Seek ye first the kingdom of God
– False humility versus true humility
– God loves blessing His people
- Prosperity Gospel Part 2
– Exposing the worm theologians!
– The wealth of the gentiles
– It’s an honor to be rich!
- Prosperity Gospel Part 3
– The silver and gold here on earth
– Jesus’ poverty to our benefit!
– How to be blessed
- Prosperity Gospel Part 4
– Righteousness or prosperity?
– The love of money is evil!
– Satan seeks to hinder the church!
– Some closing thoughts