First of all, let me premise this blog by saying that I do not believe in man's definition of "Prosperity Gospel" as defined as "Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) [A] is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are traditional to Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible), though less so in Christianity. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity." (Wikipedia). To be a true disciple of God you have to be careful with your exegesis (defined as critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture). That is, to say, that when you read and interpret Scripture, you are to study it well and true and to understand contextual what the Scripture is saying. It is important to read the whole text to understand the text completely. Is it relevant to me now, is it for the time and place that it is written, does the passage transcend time? All of these things have to carefully weighed and meditated on. When you read God's word in the way that it is intended to be read, then you will have a humble heart when reading this book. Let me clear, when this book "reads" you. The word is active and alive and it is sharper than any two-edged sword. It is the inerrant word of God. For a believer, in biblical inerrancy, Holy Scripture is the Word of God, and carries the full authority of God. Every single statement of the Bible calls for instant and unqualified acceptance. Every doctrine of the Bible is the teaching of God and therefore requires a full agreement.
So where does Scripture ever tell us that we can test God?
Answer, in the only "Italian" Book of the Bible (pronounced "Mell" "Lotch" "Ee")
Malachi 3:10-11English Standard Version (ESV)
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 3:10-11New International Version (NIV)
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 3:10-11New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.[a] Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Please note that this text tells us a few things:
- We are to Tithe to God (through our church)
- Stop robbing God, by not tithing
- We are to trust God (who He puts in place as leaders of our church) with the tithe that they are doing God's will
- If we trust him completely with our first fruits he will bless us
- He will open the storehouses of blessing
Many take this blessing and have turned it into a sort of religious (man-made) prosperity gospel and try to make it financial blessing (does it say that anywhere in the text?). This is an abomination and should not be tolerated at all. If we are to humbly understand the text, then we realize that God says that he wants us to test him. He wants us to try and out give him and to see if we can match His blessing (note: We never can, it's not about that, it is about our heart). When God says that He will open the storehouses of blessing for us what does that mean? To me, it means different blessings for different people. (Think of the parable of the talents. Think of the fruit of the Spirit and think of how each one of God's family members has their own gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit). All this to be said that it starts with complete trust and faith in God.
He has plans for you and I. He loves you and I and wants us to rely on Him completely. It doesn't meant that He doesn't want us to work (Look at Adam and Eve - He gave them work from the beginning). To each of us, there are things to do, people to serve and a call for purity and for us to seek His righteousness.
He has a plan for each and every one of us.
Do you trust Him?
Do you have complete and child-like faith in Him?
Do you love Him?
Do you call yourself just a fan or are you a true friend to Him?
Then trust Him, by testing Him.
My wife and I (along with training our kids in stewardship) live by the 10/10/80 rule. That is, that we tithe 10% of our income, we save 10% of our income and we live off 80%. It's not always easy and when we first began this journey of complete trust and faith in Him, we (I) was not in a position to tithe 10% because of debt and school loans. That being said, my wife and I made a commitment to each other and to God that we wanted to honor Him with our first fruits and we no longer wanted to be bad stewards (my wife was a good steward - I wasn't) and to honor Him in all that we do. The first year was tough and we took a financial class at our church. We read a few books on this (The road map to financial freedom along with Dave Ramsey material) and we got there. Within the first 3 years of our marriage, we were completely debt free (other than mortgage) and we were tithing God on what rightfully belonged to Him.
Since my wife and I put complete trust in God with our money, my life is completely different. Please note that I didn't say perfect because it isn't and it never will be until Christ's return. Occasionally, I have those moments of earthly desires (mine mine mine and want versus need). But I confess and I turnaround and we move toward what He calls us to do. I will confess to you that I still struggle with time (The Stewardship of Time). It is rough and I am a fast brain and active person - I need help and wisdom in this area.
Test God! See what He has planned for you and your life.