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Plans to Prosper

The Sermon of Jesus on the mount. Fresco by Fr...

“I will bless you with a future filled with hope–a future of success, not of suffering.” Jer 29:11

In modern American society there are those within the church that make the same mistake as many of the Jews in the time of Christ did. It was commonly thought in the days of the Messiah that those who were poor, those who were sick, those who were afflicted had committed some sin against God. Those who were materially wealthy saw it as a sign of God’s favor, and they viewed those who were poor as unsuccessful and abandoned by God.

In the modern day, this attitude has developed into what many call the “Prosperity Gospel.” There seem to be two different attitudes that come with this new/old teaching. The first, being wrapped up in positive messaging, proclaims that if you pray it and claim it in the name of God, you will become rich in worldly wealth. The second is a little more ominous, filling those with worldly wealth with an air of haughty superiority toward those who do not have as much. Both attitudes are wrongheaded and bound up with a false focus on earthly wealth.

God promised His children to prosper them. Christ promised the disciples that if they kept their eye on God, their reward would be great treasure, and that their needs would be provided. But, the treasure He spoke of was stored up in heaven. He did not denigrate those who had wealth here on earth, but He clearly rejected worldly success as a goal for those who follow and trust in God. This is seem in the parable about the wealthy man. It is also seen in the often misquoted and misunderstood Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the poor and hungry and thirsty. Except if you read the text in a direct translation, He is again not speaking of earthly poverty or earthly hunger. He instead speaks of the poor in spirit and those who are hungry for righteousness.

As we contemplate our present circumstance, whether it is one of comfort, wealth or complete poverty, let us remember that our earthly possessions belong to God. He grants them to us in His time and at His discretion so that His plans for our eternal prosperity can be fulfilled. The prize we seek does not come with nice houses, flashy cars, or diamond rings. It comes from the whispered “Well done, good and faithful servant” when our work here is done. The rest is just tools to accomplish that work. Be blessed and be a blessing.

Prayer

Daddy, sometimes we get arrogant when we are successful and prosperous in the eyes of the world, and we forget where those material gains come from. Other times we get angry or distressed because we lack those outward signs of success in our lives. Help us to focus on Your definition of prosperity, and give You all the glory and praise in whatever physical circumstance we find ourselves. In Jesus Name, Amem.

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