According to the dictionary, to prosper is to be fortunate or successful, to thrive, to be rich, especially in terms of one's finance. This is the commonly accepted meaning of the term. But the Hebrew words translated prosper, prosperity, prosperous in the Bible mean far more than financial riches. They mean, success, well being, joy, health and progress in all that you undertake.
Most everyone wants to be prosperous. In this country, as in other parts of the world the main concern is peace and safety (prosperity). But how few people achieve true prosperity? How very few are really successful, safe and are at peace in their souls? To be sure millions have a lot of money and there is seemingly no end to the wealth some possess. But wealth and possessions in themselves do not spell prosperity. Believe it or not, prosperity is a state of the soul. It is a spiritual condition, which is reflected in a sense of inner peace. The entire world unconsciously seeks prosperity; but comparatively few find it. Why? Why are so many rich, famous and knowledgeable people so miserable, restless and unhappy? Why? What is the secret of true success and true prosperity? Are you truly prosperous and at peace?
Sometimes we might wonder at the apparent prosperity of the wicked. Our circumstances, at times, may appear to be a contradiction of what GOD has promised in His Word. It is at times like this that we must examine the whole picture. We must go to the Word of God and examine the end of the story. Psalm 73 examines the whole picture and the end of the story.
Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full [cup] are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
GOD wants His people to be prosperous. But the prosperity He wants for us is based on spiritual foundations: not money, education, possessions, status, intellect, fame or fading physical beauty. Instead He wants us to build prosperity on faith in Him and His Son. Believers may or may not be rich; they may or may not be clever, they may or may not have great possessions. But they should all be prosperous. They should all be fulfilled and at rest in the Spirit of God. Until we have found prosperity of Spirit, we could find ourselves chasing money, fame, and self-importance like so many millions are doing today.
Does GOD tell us in His Word the secret of real prosperity? The Bible does provide the formula for true prosperity. It is an exceedingly simple recipe of only two parts.
First: Have Faith/Trust in GOD
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
2 Chronicles 20:20
Second: Obey His Law
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. Joshua 1:7, 8
The Bible is full of examples of true prosperity. These examples demonstrate, very radically, the results of faith and obedience. Read the account of Joseph in Genesis, for instance. Joseph had a faith and trust in GOD no matter what the circumstances looked like at the time. He lived in a culture as wicked as our own and he was obedient to GOD, without compromise, no matter the consequences. He did not seek or strive for prosperity but it followed his trust and obedience in GOD. Some view obedience as a form of doubt: as though the obedient believer is trying to earn their salvation and entry to the Kingdom of Heaven by "doing works". This is not the case. Faith in Jesus Christ is the very first and last requirement for entry into the Kingdom of God. But that faith should be a living faith: and living faith, as we walk with the LORD day by day, must exhibit itself in obedience. The repentant sinner must "go and sin no more." (John 5:14, 8:11) We all must give up and forsake sin. This is obedience.
There are a couple of hindrances to true prosperity. One is fighting God and resisting His Holy Spirit. Another is to not forsake sin and repent.
And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. 2 Chronicles 13:12
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
In 1886 Daniel Towner was leading the music during one of Dwight L. Moody's preaching campaigns in Massachusetts. During the service when a young man stood up to give a testimony it was clear he knew little Christian doctrine, but he finished by saying, "I am not quite sure -- but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey." Little did this young man know that he had discovered the secret of GOD's prosperity. faith (trust) and obedience. Towner jotted down the words and sent them to his friend, John Sammis, who was a Presbyterian pastor. Sammis using the words of this short testimony wrote the hymn we know as "Trust and Obey." As he wrote the hymn he considered the different areas of our life in which we need to trust God.