The Prosperity Trap
(week 09/05)
Olubi Johnson

Prosperity is the will of God: God wants us to prosper and be in health, to spend our years in pleasure and prosperity enjoying all things richly. (3Jn. 2, Job. 36.11, 1 Tim. 6.17).

However, there is a trap in prosperity if we do not develop the character of God: loving-kindness, righteousness and justice (Jer. 9.24) as our physical and material prosperity increases:

1 Timothy 6:6-11 NIV: But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Observe that the scripture says with food and raiment: clothing to protect us from the elements, not necessarily the latest expensive fashion clothes, we should be content.

Most Christians, especially those in the western world or developed world have food and raiment, but it is amongst us we have the greatest discontent and this is what leads to the prosperity trap.

Notice also that the scripture says there is a trap in prosperity if it is not acquired with the development of the character of God: contentment, godliness, endurance.

This means our material prosperity will be given by God gradually and in proportion to our spiritual prosperity.

3 John 2 NKJV: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

The prosperity trap is in trying to prosper too quickly when our spiritual prosperity is far below the material prosperity that we desire and are so desperately trying to get that we neglect spiritual things in order to get it.

Proverbs 28:20 KJV: A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

Proverbs 28:22 NKJV:  A man with an evil eye hastens after riches,And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.

This inordinate desire for prosperity is called covetousness.

Covetousness is discontentment with the material prosperity God has given you at your present level of spiritual development.

If you want to increase your material prosperity increase your spiritual growth while continuing to give promptly, completely and regularly your tithes and offerings.

Otherwise you will be deceived by Satan into the prosperity trap of covetousness.

The New Testament calls covetousness idolatry:

Colossians 3:5 NKJV: Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,which is idolatry.

Now, just like idolatry caused the children of Israel to perish in the wilderness and not enter into their destiny of the promised land (1 Cor. 10.5-7),covetousness in the body of Christ is robbing many christians of the New Testament promised land: the fulness of Christ: doing the works Jesus did and greater (Eph. 4.12, Jn. 14.12). This idolatry causes them to be stunted in their spiritual growth, clouded in their spiritual eyes so they cannot see afar off and so lack revelation to grow into the fulness of Christ.

This New Testament idolatry of covetousness is very subtle and many are being deceived by it, hence this article.

This is because prosperity is the will of God and so the preaching, teaching and practice of the prosperity principles of seed-plant: giving of tithes and offerings, watering: prayer and walking in the spirit and harvesting: working with your hands that which is good and investing in good works, is correct.

The error here is not one of commission but one of over-emphasis and omission: the preachers over-emphasize prosperity because of their greed and the greed of the people (Jer. 6.13, 5. 31), and they omit either deliberately or by deception (Eph. 4.14) the teaching on growth, character and love.

The Lord Jesus faced the same problem in his ministry when He rebuked the Pharisees of overemphasizing tithing (which will bring material prosperity) and omitting the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy and faith.

Matthew 23:23  NKJV: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Judgement here speaks of self judgment and discernment to increase in righteousness (1 Cor. 11.31, 32).

Mercy speaks of doing righteousness, showing mercy to others and so be able to trust in the mercy of God not to be consumed when you fail and to be faithful unto the end when you are weak (Hos.10.12, Mt. 5.7, Heb. 4.15-16, 1 Cor. 7.25).

Faith speaks of using faith to develop character in our souls: will, mind and emotions by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1.9, Jam. 1.22).

It is vital now that you become aware of this prosperity trap of covetousness as explained above and avoid it simply by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness:

Matthew 6:28-33 NKJV: So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

The way you know whether a particular level of material prosperity is above your present level of spiritual prosperity is if in trying to run after it you find yourself habitually neglecting your time with God in prayer, the Word and fellowship in Church.

I use the word habitually above, because you may occasionally miss out on these things when the wisdom of God dictates to do so in order to attend to some business or the other which will bring material prosperity. However if this becomes the rule rather than the exception you have entered the prosperity trap.

Repent: this may mean changing some jobs and businesses or reordering your time and priorities by becoming more disciplined to give adequate time to the things of the Spirit.

So do whatever you have to do to get out of this prosperity trap as a flood of judgement is about to be unleashed upon the church to remove the spots, blemishes and wrinkles (Is. 4.4, Eph. 5.26-27), so we can be a glorious, prosperous church that will bring great blessings both spiritual and material to our generation and the nations of the world