Prosperity gospel – does God want us to be rich or poor?

One of the most controversial topics in Christianity today is the prosperity gospel.

Ministers who preach the prosperity gospel tell their congregations that God wants them to be rich and often flaunt their wealth in terms of private jets and lavish mansions. Opponents of the prosperity gospel condemn such prosperity ministers, accusing them of being materialistic and greedy.

What does the Bible teach about prosperity?

The Bible tells us that wealth is a blessing from God. In Deuteronomy 28, it is written that

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.

In Psalm 35:27, the Bible says that God takes “delight in the prosperity of His servant.”

God is the source of wealth and it is God who gives the power to get wealth. This can be seen in 1 Chronicles 29:12 – Wealth and honour come from you (God)” and Deuteronomy 8:18 – “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

In the Bible, most of the time, poverty is seen as a negative state, and it is the duty of the Christian to help the poor financially. However, there are some verses that support the fact that some righteous Christians will encounter poverty and their impoverished state leads to spiritual growth as poverty makes a person more dependent on God for their survival. Jesus calls the poor in spirit “blessed” in the Beatitudes.

In Phillipians 4:11-13, Paul writes about his financial situation:

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul regularly enjoyed plenty and poverty, as a Christian he both prospered and was poor. The way he coped with his differing states was to develop a spirit of contentment and faith that he could achieve anything through Christ’s strength.

The Bible doesn’t promise Christians that they will be rich, but the Word does promise that even when Christians are poor, they will be provided for abundantly. Speaking to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul writes

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

You may be poor, but you can trust that God will meet your needs with abundance. Your provision doesn’t need to come just from personal wealth. There are many testimonies from Christians who are in dire straits but received generous donations or had their debt supernaturally cancelled. Jesus didn’t have much money but He was always well taken care of. When he had to feed a crowd of 5000, he only had five loaves and two fishes, but He managed to multiply the food so everyone was fully fed and he even had baskets of food leftover. What a wonderful illustration of how God provides for the poor abundantly!

So it can be seen that God doesn’t want you to be poor or rich, but wants to meet your needs abundantly.

John Wesley exhorted his audiences to “earn all they can, save all they can and give away all they can.”

The accumulation of wealth is not for our own personal enjoyment, but so that we can give to the less fortunate and achieve equality in wealth levels among Christians. As it says in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 – [

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”


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