It's almost Christmas, and we are living the American dream—family, home in the suburbs, two cars and all the Christmas gifts we can buy. It requires money and lots of it. Secretly, we all hope when the Bible tells us we will prosper and be in good health as our soul prospers (3 John 2), it means we are going to be rich and maybe this year we can buy that really special gift for the one we love.
America is already one of the wealthiest nations, but are we really prosperous?
What Is Prosperity?
What is prosperity? Does it just mean financial success and wealth? What does it mean for my soul to prosper? I know God says He has plans for my good and not my disaster (see Jer. 29:11, NLT) and I want to have faith to believe that is true, but does it include everything, even money?
If it does, am I ready for it? Are you?
The standard dictionary definition of prosperity would lead me to believe prosperity only means being successful financially. In the Hebrew and Greek, though, "prosperous" means to have success in all areas of life. In the Aramaic, it means "to advance."
To be successful in God's kingdom, I must be perpetually advancing in every way, not just collecting a lot of money and sitting on it or squandering it. Money can be used for worthy purposes, but only if I have the rest of my life in order first. Otherwise, it will mean sure disaster.
To be prosperous, I must advance in every area—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If the soul part of me, the part that is the essence of who I am, is continuing to advance along with my spirit, I will advance in other areas, namely, a healthy body.
Healthy in mind means having a healthy thought life. Healthy emotionally means not allowing emotions to control me but understanding their purposes. Healthy in will means to have my primary goal in mind and always assert my will to be in line with what God shows me is my ultimate goal.
The way things are supposed to work is my thoughts control my emotions, which then control my behaviors. Many times, especially when I was battling sugar addiction and my weight was climbing skyward, I found my emotions dictated my thoughts, which then resulted in my behaviors acting totally contrary to my primary desire to be healthy.
"When I want to do good, I don't; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway" (Rom. 7:19, TLB). Even when I understood this, it was hard to bring my emotions in line. When I was able to somewhat control my emotions, then my thoughts would run helter-skelter and throw me off course once again.
Keys to Prosperity
During this conundrum, I learned several key things.
- I don't have to follow every suggestion my thoughts throw at me.
- My emotions have deep roots in my past, which I can with God's help understand how to manage.
- I need to guide my will by keeping what I really want to happen at the forefront of my brain.
When I understand these things, my mind, will and emotions will continue to come into line with what God wants for me. I won't stay stuck in the muck and mire of my past. Through forgiveness of various past scenarios and hurts, I can move forward to the well-being, success and destiny God has planned for me.
Another big key, though, is understanding how God measures success. To Him success is when I totally surrender to Him and deny myself (Luke 9:23), which means to focus on Him and not on my fleshly wants and desires.
The following defines true kingdom success: "Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God's goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of your association with Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11-12, AMP).
The only way I advance in the kingdom is through total submission to what God wants for me trusting Him for the ultimate success. If that is finances, then I need to learn how to submit totally to Him and advance in every other area so that I will be able to correctly handle such an assignment.
My spirit's health is directly related to how much I allow the Holy Spirit to do His deep work within me. If I am listening to Him, if I am following Him intently, every area of my life with exude His prosperity.
"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us" (Eph. 3:20-21, MSG).
My success in His kingdom is totally related to how well I do only the things He has planned in advance for me to do. Those might be as simple as hanging clothes out on the line, home-schooling my kids or being involved in their education in some way, cooking a healthy dinner for my family, really taking time to love and appreciate my husband, teaching children's church for 3-year-olds or taking time to encourage a friend.
These can be some of the good works He has called me to do. When I do even what seem like the simplest of things, I am His masterpiece, His handiwork, His work of art, His poetry, His workmanship (see Eph. 2:10).
Nothing would provide true prosperity for me more than that.
Are you willing to ask God for prosperity? What would that look like for you?
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of seven books, all available on Amazon. Her latest book, Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God, is available now, and Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds is the No. 1 Christian weight-loss memoir. She is also a writing and weight-loss coach, blogger, speaker, wife and mother. Visit her online at TeresaShieldsParker.com to find her books, coaching programs and gifts.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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