Excerpt from the book:
By Don Enevoldsen
What is the Prosperity Message? At first glance, that may seem like a silly question. It is the message that God wants people to experience prosperity, isn’t it? Unfortunately, as we apply the inevitable nuances to that statement, the issue becomes progressively unclear.
Does it mean that God wants everyone to be prosperous? Most proponents of the Prosperity Message immediately answer, “Yes.” But then they begin to clarify, just to make sure we don’t walk away actually believing that God wants “everyone” to be rich.
“The Bible says that the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just.”
So it isn’t really everyone who should prosper, only God’s people.
Who, then, are the wicked? It would seem that we should seek them out so that we can get their money. It is a biblical injunction, is it not? Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you—and make sure you get their money.
Fortunately, we can look at the verse in question and figure out who the wicked are. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really clear up the question.
A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
This verse may illustrate as well as anything the one inherent problem that seems to follow the Prosperity Message around. There is a lot of greed and self-centeredness attached to it.
Notice that it is the “sinner” whose wealth is stored up (it is “sinner” in twenty-five different translations that I checked), yet common usage has turned it into the “wicked.” I’ve heard this verse quoted thousands of times in the past two decades, and I can’t remember ever hearing “sinner.”
Perhaps you could make a case that they are the same thing. However, as I compare the two words, “wicked” has more of a “them vs. us” feel to it. We are all sinners, but “they” are the wicked. “We” are righteous. Let’s put “them” in their place—and get their money. What does that really say about us? Proverbs has another definition of who the wicked are that looks a little like an indictment of those who desire the wealth of the wicked.
The wicked desire the plunder of evil men.
Does that mean that the wicked are those who desire the wealth of the wicked? Does the desire itself define wickedness? Or at least point us in the right direction?
It seems to me that the idea of taking the wealth of the world away from non-believers so that we can be rich is dreadfully far away from the idea of loving others as we love ourselves. If that is really a part of what God intended the Prosperity Message to be, then it seems incompatible with the Great Commission. In reality, God so loved that he gave. Our desire to take from those to whom he gave is more an indication of greed than it is of godly blessing.