Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.
I have an envelope filled with gift cards that friends have given us for various occasions. Not long ago, I took one of those cards to pay for dinner, but the waiter informed me it had expired. I had lost an opportunity because of my forgetfulness, or some would say slothfulness. In a lot of ways, life is like a gift card from God. We can choose to spend it on things infinitely more valuable than a meal, we can choose to squander it on trivial pursuits, or we can allow our lives to expire without exchanging them for anything at all. God has given each of us a limited amount of time, talents, resources, and opportunities, but we choose how we spend those gifts.
One choice is an attitude of productivity. Productivity is an attitude choice that maximizes God’s gifts to us. Laziness (the Bible calls it slothfulness) is an attitude choice of indifference toward the time, talent, resources, and opportunities that God gives us. The Bible says we should choose productivity over laziness.
What is the relationship between productivity and prosperity? There is a teaching in Christianity called the “prosperity gospel” that says it is God’s will for every Christian to be rich and physically well, and if you’re not experiencing health and wealth, something is wrong with you. That is not what the Bible teaches. The problem with heresy like that is there is just enough truth mixed in with error to make it sound plausible. As you look at the Bible, there does seem to be a relationship between obedience to God and prosperity. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all of your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” Proverbs 10:4 says, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” And Proverbs 13:21 says, “Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.”
How are we to understand those verses? Some people say, “Those verses are in the Old Testament, so they apply to Israel, not us.” As you look at Proverbs, though, you find these are universal principles that apply to everyone. Other people say, “These verses mean that if you do what God says, you’re going to be wealthy.” But there’s a problem with that, especially when you consider the experience of Christians around the world. For example, Hebrews 11:37 talks about the first-century Christians: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two . . . they were put to death with the sword; they [were] destitute, afflicted, ill-treated.” That hardly sounds like the prosperity gospel, does it? That’s the way it’s been throughout history for Christians.
So how are we to understand these verses about prosperity? God hasn’t promised you wealth, but what He has promised is this: people who follow God’s principles about work, productivity, and their finances are generally going to be more prosperous than those who ignore God’s principles.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Productivity Over Laziness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.