The Purpose of Prosperity

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Ephesians 4:28)

There are three levels of how to live with material things: (1) you can steal to get them; (2) or you can work to get them; (3) or you can work to get in order to give.

Too many professing Christians live on level two. We glorify work over against stealing and mooching, and feel we have acted virtuously if we have spurned stealing and mooching, and given ourselves to an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. That’s not a bad thing. Work is better than stealing and mooching. But that’s not what the apostle calls us to.

Almost all the forces of our culture urge us to live on level two: work to get. But the Bible pushes us relentlessly to level three: work to get to give. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Why does God bless us with abundance? So we can have enough to live on, and then use the rest for all manner of good works that alleviate spiritual and physical misery — temporal and eternal suffering. Enough for us; abundance for others.

The issue is not how much a person makes. Big industry and big salaries are a fact of our times, and they are not necessarily evil. The evil is in being deceived into thinking that a large salary must be accompanied by a lavish lifestyle.

God has made us to be conduits of his grace. The danger is in thinking the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. Copper can carry unbelievable riches to others. And in the very process of that giving we enjoy the greatest blessing (Acts 20:35).