God’s prosperity plan for you, His child, is in the form of principles or laws. To prosper is “to go forward hopefully, to flourish, succeed, thrive”. In the Old Testament the word means “to push forward”, hence to attain one’s goals, and in the New Testament it means “to be helped along your way”.
There are mental laws of prosperity — and it is in this field that most writers occupy themselves. “Change your thinking and you can change your world” is an oft-quoted basic law. But you need to go beyond that. There are also spiritual laws of prosperity that God has given in His Word. These principles have been acted upon through the centuries and their application produces a better, firmer prosperity than one approached solely from the mental angle.
All prosperity is first spiritual then material. Two verses come immediately to mind: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 NIV), and also the words of Jesus, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [see verse 31] will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Prosperity solely from a mental angle is a “sand-based” philosophy, for the moment a person slips mentally he or she fails materially as well. Also, a mental-based prosperity is competitive by nature. It can be illustrated by a sales person competing in the marketplace, where only a certain quantity of people can buy a particular product.
God has for you a secure, spiritual-based prosperity plan which is creative and non-competitive, for God supplies your every need and that of all His children. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (NIV). It says nothing about your share of the market. It says nothing about the inflation rate, bank interest, or levels of taxation. It says, simply and plainly, “My God will meet [supply]…” — how much? “… all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
The first key to God’s prosperity plan is that you must change your attitude. This is part of the mental laws of prosperity, yet with plenty of scriptural backing, and in succeeding chapters I will add to this the spiritual laws of prosperity. You must change your attitude in four areas if you are to become prosperous, if you are to follow the example of the millionaires of the Bible and of the prosperous Jesus.
Poverty — a Christian virtue?
First, you must change your attitude towards poverty. Is poverty a Christian virtue or is it a common vice? Many of us have been brought up in the strong tradition that poverty is a Christian virtue, and you must deal with this matter. It will be difficult for you to demonstrate prosperity if you leave in your consciousness the thought, “I will not be a good Christian if I’m rich”. With this attitude, if you want to be a good Christian and make it to heaven, you’d better hold back and at least stay middle-class — you don’t want to be at the bottom!
There is a psychology of poverty, and it’s interesting when you start reading what some researchers are discovering. I have read that poverty is basically the root of the majority of the world’s problems in one way or another. Poverty is the root of starvation. Poverty is the root cause of many wars. If poverty is named as the cause of these problems, I simply ask, How can it be a Christian virtue? Is the Bible so confused that it teaches it is a virtue to be poor, while being poor is the root cause of most problems? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
You must change your attitude to this deep-seated feeling you have that it is right and Christian to be poor. The first part of the commission of Jesus was this: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…” (Luke 4:18). Later Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want…” (Mark 14:7). He did not commend people for being poor, but He helped them and encouraged them. A good example of a Bible person who was not poor is Abraham in the Old Testament. He was called “God’s friend” (James 2:23), and was “very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold” (Genesis 13:2).
How can poor people break out of the cycle of poverty? The Bible gives a number of examples. In I Kings 17:7-16 is the record of the widow of Zarephath, who during a famine gave all the food and water she had to Elijah, the man of God, and received a year’s supply of flour and oil. In Mark 12:41-44 is the record of the giving of a widow, who placed all she had in the temple treasury. The result of her giving is not recorded, but I’m convinced she received a harvest of the things she needed.
In II Corinthians 8:1-7 is the record of the giving of the churches of Macedonia, who in a time of trial and extreme poverty gave to help believers in other places. They first gave themselves to the Lord and then pleaded to be allowed to take part “in this grace of giving” (verses 4,7).
A Christian magazine some while ago made prosperity the theme for one issue. There was first an article on prosperity in which the author came out strongly for the Biblical principles that I stand for. However, in order to give a balanced view on this subject, the editor then printed an article promoting the opposing view. In fairness to the author of the second article (I no longer have his name), he said that there is an extreme, and I recognise this.
He quoted one American evangelist who said that “God doesn’t want you in that itty-bitty Toyota, he wants you in a great big Cadillac”. The author said that the problem with this particular theory is that it doesn’t work everywhere, and that “you tend to forget that you are blessed with a land where the cattle are fair, fat and easy to catch, while the cattle in less fortunate countries are lean, mean and seldom seen!”
Further in the article he states that the whole approach smacks of “formula Christianity”, popularised in recent years by an avalanche of “how-to” books. He writes, “It seems that whenever someone discovers a principle that works in a particular way for him, he deduces that that principle will work in an identical way for everyone and he writes a book about it. These books are generally helpful to some people but a source of spiritual frustration to others who just can’t understand why their lives are not happy and perfect and prosperous the way author so-and-so says his life is.”
Well, I believe in formula Christianity, for I became a Christian by following a formula (Romans 10:9) and I do not hide my belief. Part of the problem with the unhappy people he mentioned is simply that they have been taught to beg to a capricious God.
Those who believe in a capricious God say that you must pray and seek God’s will and guidance on every matter, and if you have obeyed God, and if He wills, then He will help you out. But if He doesn’t, then make the best of it because when you get to heaven it’s going to be glorious up there. It’s pie-in-the-sky Christianity, and as far as the present is concerned, very much a hit-and-miss affair. I can well understand how people under that kind of teaching are frustrated, because they never know when they’re going to find God in the right mood; they never know whether the “sin” of kicking the cat is going to affect their prosperity.
God is a God of principles. A principle in the natural world works every time it is applied. Take two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen and you will get water every time. Whenever you apply the principle you get the results. Whenever you apply the principle of gravity to an object — when you let it go — it will fall. It’s a principle, and it doesn’t matter whether that morning I kicked the cat or patted the dog, the principle always works.
If your problem is frustration because you are not seeing results, remember that God’s principles are not subject to change. The Bible says very clearly, “I the Lord do not change…” (Malachi 3:6). The book of James says He “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). You can rely on God. He does not change His mind every other minute about you. He wants the best for you and He laid down the principles for you to have the best. Check out your application of the principle, but don’t blame God! God is a God of principle, and His principles are recorded in the Bible.
You must change your attitude to poverty. Look up every reference to the poor and to poverty in the Bible, and you will conclude it is a common vice not a Christian virtue. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
Prosperity — is it God-given?
You must also change your attitude towards prosperity. While you recognise that God wants good things for you, the question is, When? I believe He wants them for you right now. This is not pie-in-the-sky religion or steak-on-your-plate-while-you-wait religion, but a relationship that works on Monday morning in the business world as well as on Sunday morning in church.
God specifically mentions attitudes in II Corinthians 9:7-8, and it is one of the most important passages regarding His prosperity plan that I could quote. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” God has prosperity in abundance for you, and the way you enjoy it is to change your attitude.
The word “heart” in verse 7 is used to indicate the seat and centre of the personal life, the mind. When you apply the principle of giving and receiving, you can miss the result if you apply it with a wrong attitude. This verse clearly says that when you give you should not do it reluctantly, or as other translations have it, not sorrowfully; that is, not as if you feel you are losing something.
God said it, so it’s important for us to sit up and take notice. It is not just the fact that an opportunity came last Sunday morning to put something in the offering plate, or during the week to give to someone in need, or to give your time to some cause. It’s not just that, it is your attitude that motivated the act that counts. You could give $10,000 and miss out on the result if your attitude was one of reluctance or sorrow. Your attitude is important.
Then verse 7 says not to give under compulsion, that is, of necessity. You must watch this also. It is giving of necessity when on Friday you walk through my hometown of Adelaide, on what is called Badge Day, and someone puts a badge under your nose to encourage you to give to some charity. Many people place a dollar in the tin and stick the badge on their clothes — why? Because they want to support that charity? Not always, but often because they do not want anyone else to hassle them when they are walking down the street. That is giving of necessity, under compulsion.
You face the same danger when you go to church, and the usher passes an offering plate or bag. I read of one church in Scotland where they placed the offering container right in front of the pulpit. The people would come out row by row, while the preacher stood there, and put their offering in the bowl. Would you stay seated? Would you put in only a small coin? That is giving under compulsion, of necessity. It is the wrong attitude to giving. In fact, they called it a “heave” offering, based on an Old Testament passage (Exodus 29:27). The attitude was, “Lord, I can’t get out of this, so here it is.”
Never give because you have to give. A church should never take an offering because they need money. It could exist without your money. A church should make a time for the sacrament of giving because its task is to train people to operate God’s principles. Your attitude when you give and your attitude between the point of giving and when you receive (see Chapter 4) is very important to your prosperity.
So what attitude should you have? II Corinthians 9:7 says to not give reluctantly or under compulsion. On the positive side, it states that “God loves a cheerful giver” — one who can smile as he gives, one who feels happy about what he is doing when he gives.
One writer has well said that you should be just as happy at the moment of giving as you are when you receive something. And we all are happy when we receive something — especially if it’s something nice, or something we have always wanted. That is the same attitude you should have the moment that you give. The Greek word translated “cheerful” is a word the English language has borrowed — hilaros — “God loves a hilarious giver.” Now perhaps you did not hear anybody breaking up with laughter when the offering was taken last Sunday, so maybe that’s why I have to share this truth. It did happen to me once. One morning in a church I pastored in Taperoo, South Australia, a man saw the impact of this verse and he laughed out loud as he gave. I’ve also been in churches where the congregation have clapped profusely at the announcement that an offering was going to be received.
“God loves a hilarious giver.” So your attitude when you give is important. If you go around saying, “Okay, I’m going to give because Peter Wade says it’s a principle, and I need the result, so…” What are you going to get? Nothing.
I have met many Christians who tithed, that is, they gave a straight 10% of all their income, to a local church all their lives, and were still poor by most standards. In spite of having given large amounts, there were few results. Why? The scripture is true. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” So there must be something wrong with their attitude. If you want to enjoy God’s prosperity plan, you must work on your attitude to prosperity, and especially to giving, the way you get into God’s flow of affluence. I’ll share more about this in the next chapter.
Money — the root of all evil?
There’s another attitude that you must change. Some people quote I Timothy 6:10 in the same way as the popular song, “Money is the root of all evil…” But is that what the verse really says? In my Bible, I Timothy 6:10 reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…”
Your attitude to money must change. Many Christians are scared of money. They seem scared to have money or to talk about it. The verse says the love of money is a root of all evil. It has been well suggested that the lack of money is a root of all evil too. Mike Todd, the Hollywood actor and director, is reported to have said, “It’s not a sin to be poor, it’s just mighty inconvenient at times.”
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Timothy 6:10). Money is neither moral nor immoral. To use the correct term, money is amoral. To be moral is to be good and pure and right and to take notice of the self-respect of all people. Immoral is the opposite of the normally accepted moral standards. But to be amoral is to be neither on one side nor the other. The computer on which I am writing this book is amoral — it’s neither good nor bad, it’s just a computer. It has no emotions, it cannot sin or do good, it just sits there and accepts the words I type. Likewise, money is amoral.
Money has been defined as a symbol of the stored wealth of a nation. I believe money is more than that: it is a symbol of God’s great abundance that is available to you. It is a symbol of the truth that you live in an opulent universe. It does not matter if in my pocket I have Australian dollars, American dollars, or Monopoly money — they are still just symbols. And yet most people have taken those symbols and made a god of them, and judge their lives by the total value of their net assets, as if the one with the most toys wins!
The scripture says “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. It does not say that money is evil. Money is a necessary item in civilised nations and you must change your attitude to it. You must see that it is something that is “made round to go round”, as I was told when I was a child. Nowadays they say it’s “made flat to stack” — I don’t believe that. Stack it up and you are not operating God’s principle. “In circulation there is life; in hoarding there is only stagnation and loss”, says author Mary MacDougall.
I worked once with a Christian friend who had been a missionary, and he asked me one time what I was going to be teaching about at a camp. I told him the theme for the camp was “The Prosperous Jesus”. He looked at me, and said, “But He didn’t have any possessions.” Well, he had read his Bible constantly but had missed the fact that Jesus had the best clothes of that time. However, I told him that having possessions is not necessarily a sign of prosperity. You cannot judge prosperity by the possessions you have. If you do, you are in trouble! “… A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
Prosperity is not based on how much you have. Prosperity is greater and deeper than that. Prosperity is better described as a state of mind, an attitude based on God’s promises. It is faith in God’s unfailing supply regardless of any evidence to the contrary.
Change your attitude about money. Money is not evil, and money is not good. Money is amoral, a symbol of God’s abundance that you use to obtain items that you need.
Giving — a productive experience?
There is one further change of attitude necessary for God’s prosperity plan, and this is made clear in the statement of Jesus quoted in Acts 20:35. Paul is recorded as saying, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work you must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: `It is more blessed to give than to receive’.” You must change your attitude and take on board the truth that Jesus stated: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Why is it more blessed to give? Because it is more productive. If you receive ten dollars as a gift from some person, what you have is the ten dollars. But to the person who gave it to you as they applied God’s principle, it could be worth a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars.
It is more blessed to give because it is more productive; as you give you are putting into operation a principle. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” But nothing happens until you give. So it is more blessed, more productive, to give than to receive.
As a child I was not taught this. Everything that my parents did for me, and they were good parents, impressed upon me that receiving was a good experience. At Christmas, our family had big believing. Instead of putting a stocking out for Father Christmas, we always had a pillow case near the chimney. We put the pillow case out and expected it to be loaded with exciting things. And yes, we were excited when we received our presents. Now we are adults and must change our thinking.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Who said it? Jesus. Did He know what He was talking about? To be sure! The statement is not recorded in the Gospels, yet it’s a powerful statement. “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, because it is more productive.
Change your attitude
Your attitude in four areas must change if you are to enjoy God’s prosperity plan. You must change your attitude about poverty . Do not follow the tradition of it being a Christian virtue, but rather see it as it is, a common vice. You must change your attitude to prosperity, and recognise that it is not measured by your possessions. Your attitude when you apply God’s principles makes the difference. You must change your attitude to money, and see it as amoral, a symbol of God’s opulent universe. And finally you must change your attitude to giving, for it is more productive to give than to receive.
Charles Swindoll wrote: “How and why you give is of far greater significance to God than what you give. Attitude and motive are always more important than amount” (The Grace Awakening).
Start the process of changing your attitude in these four areas, and get ready to see prosperity flowing in your life.
Copyright © 1992 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the New International Version (NIV), Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/
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