“Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful. [Deuteronomy 8:18 – NLT]”
Some translations of the above verse say Remember the Lord for He gives you the power to be prosperous. So if we want to be successful or prosperous God should be first in our lives. Our focus should never be the gift but the giver. Gifts come and go but the giver is eternally there for us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the source and we need him. If we have him we have everything. Once that sinks into our brain, we won’t be after wealth, riches or success. These things will come chasing us.
The world defines riches or wealth (or prosperity) as all the material things (assets) that we own and possess. More assets yield greater income or are greater sources of income. Businesses, bank accounts, investments, houses, cars, jewelry, cash etc. all compute to a bigger income and are therefore your riches. But that’s not what God thinks. He is the source and giver of all things. I was always amazed at this piece of scripture. Let’s take a look.
“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian [Genesis 39:1-2 – KJV]“
If you pay attention to the story, Joseph was just stripped of his clothing and being sold as a slave in Egypt. So what did Joseph have at the time he was sold as a slave? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. According to the worldly definition, his assets were zero, so his wealth was zero. In fact, he would have had to even worry about food, clothing, a home etc. Yet God says he was a prosperous man. That is amazing. Why was he prosperous? Because God was with him. Let’s not forget that with God on your side you are prosperous irrespective of what material possessions you have or not. Even if you are in debt, and the Lord is with you, you are prosperous. Since God is your source you will be provided with what you need and that is why you can enjoy your relationship with God and not have to labor for wealth and riches.
When we have this mindset we are liberated from the mentality of working for riches, now we can start to focus on working for God instead. This also liberates us from having a stingy attitude. We know our source and we know that our source has an endless supply of everything, so we are free now to give and give in abundance. This helps us to care for others, we do not measure what we give in accordance with how much we have, rather we give as our heart desires and we can truly be cheerful givers as mentioned by Paul in [2 Corinthians 9:7].
Because our focus is God, we begin to get sensitive and closer to God and not the material things of this world. We begin to enjoy a more mature and intimate relationship with him and see his blessings in everything we do. God backs us up when we trust Him and he knows all our needs and gives to us abundantly. If this were not true, he wouldn’t have said “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. [Matthew 6:24 – NKJV]”. He wants us to enjoy life by trusting Him.
I say all this because I am experiencing it myself. Some of my friends have mocked me for leaving a technical IT job to do a bible study and then take up a job teaching underprivileged people. This seems like foolishness to them, but “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men [1 Corinthians 1:25 – NKJV]” And I know how my God has been taking very good care of my family and myself and I can say one thing, I cannot compare the satisfaction that I get doing what God tells me to do with that of my previous job.
So yes one can run behind material wealth or possessions and gain some of it but there is an end to it if it is not through God. “fools may be successful for the moment, but then comes sudden disaster [Job 5:3 – NLT]”. But better to trust in the Lord and look at him as your source. Follow his leading and do what he says, even if the world mocks or laughs at you, you and your family will be successful and prosperous because of your relationship with him.