Money and the Bible: Prosperity Gospel or To Look Within

by Joshua Tilghman on June 12, 2012


Money, prosperity, and blessings! Most everybody wants them, and in the past few decades mega-churches across the nation have developed the concept of “prosperity gospel.” The gist of this concept is that if you please God by following all his rules, God will send financial prosperity your way. Is this true? In a nutshell, no, it is not because the entire premise is wrong. In this blog post we will discuss why this message misses the entire point, and then I will share some of what the scriptures really teach about wealth and abundance, as well as some steps you can take receive more money the proper way!

On June 11, 2012, CNN aired an article entitled, “Creflo Dollar’s Prosperity Gospel finds followers and critics.” I do not wish to discuss the semantics of prosperity teacher Creflo Dollar’s personal problems, but the article did make me think of all the prosperity messages I had heard before and how silly the concept really is. If we please God by obeying all the rules, does he really bless us with abundance? There are many Christians serving God faithfully from the traditional Christian perspective who are blessed with abundance, and many prosperity gospel preachers will use this as evidence. But aren’t there also people who are following the same righteous path but live in poverty? Sure there are. Why? Why would an external god give one servant wealth but give some other faithful servant poverty?

Some would say that no one can know the mind of God and that he is only testing the faithful Christian living in poverty. For example, maybe God knows he isn’t ready to receive financial blessing because he wouldn’t use it wisely. Well, what about all the Christians that God did give wealth to and they didn’t use it wisely? The entire “prosperity gospel” message is very much lacking in wisdom, so here’s a different proposal entirely: being blessed with money and wealth has nothing to do with obeying all the rules of an external God in the first place. Instead, it has everything to do with you and what’s going on inside the kingdom within you!

This whole concept is so important because many Christians have the attitude that if they’re doing right, God is eventually going to “open the storehouse of heaven and pour out such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Even though the scripture above directly relates to tithing, it is part of the prosperity message concept because tithing is part of being obedient, right? In the early years of my Christian life, I heard this sermon preached on tithing and lived hopefully. But nothing significant ever happened. And as I looked around at other Christians, I realized that the chances of this storehouse blessing happening to any of us were about the same as if we won the lottery. Honestly, such abundance that there will not even be room to receive it? C’mon! Is God really into waving the magic wand business just because you are following the rules? I don’t think so. Again, it’s all about Jesus’ little message to us about the kingdom within, so if you’re looking for abundance, stop relying on following all the rules perfect and start looking at the kingdom within you. Then you will be a much better example of a Christian because things will really start to change!

The Bible makes it clear that wealth and abundance are attained through knowledge, creativity, confidence, giving, and living abundant CONSCIOUSLY! Sound like hard work? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, it doesn’t have to be hard work at all. It comes from a shift in your being. Let’s look at some important scriptures about wealth. There are literally thousands but we will just take a few to discuss the main points I want to point out:

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31).

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Tim. 6:6)

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Tim 6:7)

“Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.” (Proverbs 23:4).

The above scriptures discuss something crucial about the kingdom within you: if you are worried or concerned, or generally feeling bad about money, then you are already being counter-productive to receiving. Money is just money. Never worry or stress about it. Especially in the quote by Jesus we see an important attitude that must be developed. Only by fixing your inner attitudes and conscious thoughts can you begin to be in the right frame of mind when it comes to wealth and abundance. Remember, worrying and fretting over money is just your ego controlling your spirit, which brings us to another scripture:

“He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a broken down city without a wall.” (Proverbs 25:28).

This scripture is so revealing! The city represents your inner kingdom, or consciousness. The wall is the outside world. When your kingdom within is broken, the world around you WILL BE TOO! This is true with wealth and abundance also.

The funny thing is that many people who are wealthy—even non-Christians—follow the principles established by Jesus and other Biblical writers all the time. Many Christians consider these wealthy people sinners because they aren’t following the same rules as their external God might dictate. But maybe these sinners are more correct, because even though it seems like their “outer kingdom” focus is in the wrong place, they have their “inner” kingdom focus exactly perfect! As this site always tries to teach, it’s not about religion. It’s about true spirituality, which can only be found from within!

Let’s look at some more scriptures about wealth and knowledge:

“Go to the ant, sluggard; consider her ways and be wise; who having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

“Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms shall be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Proverbs 24: 3-4).

“A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 27:12)

Having knowledge truly is power! It is amazing to me to see the opportunities in this world to generate more wealth just b y knowing where to go and how to proceed. With the right inner kingdom attitude and a little creativity, the possibilities are truly endless. The knowledge will come just by going out and looking for it! People who focus on an external God who is supposed to bless them with storehouse riches falling from the heavens fail to see that you’re here to experience life in all its diversity. It’s up to you then to go out and learn about it. Get all the knowledge you can on whatever subjects you are most interested in! Then look for opportunities to build wealth with that knowledge.

Here are some more scriptures about giving, which perhaps teaches the most important concept of all.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)

“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11: 24-25).

“…the righteous gives and does not hold back.” (Proverbs 21:26).

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)

I want you to pay attention to the last two scriptures by Jesus in Luke and Paul in Galatians. Jesus is taking the focus off of an external God here, and instead putting the focus on you. More importantly, both of them are putting the focus on you to look within yourself. Think about it; whatever you give into the outside world, that’s what measure you get back. Why? Because the outside world is a reflection of what your inner kingdom is. If you are not a giver, you aren’t putting yourself in a position to receive!” And this is the true reason why it is more “blessed to give than to receive.”

Everybody has been taught the above concepts, but do we truly understand them? It’s all about what goes on “within you” that determines your outside world. This is the main message of the blog The Spirit of the Scripture, and the same applies to wealth and abundance.

In conclusion, I want to look at one more scripture:

“John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)

When scriptures like the one above are interpreted without knowledge problems arise. For example, many would consider the above scripture to be talking about an external god personally deciding to give or withhold a financial blessing to someone here on earth. But where is heaven truly? Is it “up there” somewhere in the sky where an external god resides? No. See the blog post entitled WHERE IS HEAVEN for more details, and you’ll soon learn it still all comes from within.

I hope this blog post has helped you to look closely at your beliefs about abundance. What do you think about prosperity gospel messages? Any comments are welcome!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim Shimer June 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

Check out Debra Mumford’s new book “Exploring Prosperity Preaching: Biblical Health, Wealth, and Wisdom.” You’ll appreciate its in-depth analysis of the core tenets of the prosperity gospel.

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Joshua Tilghman June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Kim,

Thanks for commenting. I am always willing to learn more, so I appreciate your recommendation. I looked it up on Amazon and it seems interesting.

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Kris Chowbay June 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Great Article Josh!

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Joshua Tilghman June 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Kris,

Thanks for the enthusiasm! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Pat June 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Nice , well put.

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Kat July 24, 2012 at 7:24 am

Josh, this is great! This is how entrepreneurs think and go about their life and business. They are free of the conventions placed on us by school and common thought and go wild with life and succeed that way. Of course, knowledge is important because you see many wealthy people destroy their lives, so a spiritual foundation and rich inner life is necessary to enjoy life and all the abundance. Conventional thought dictates that there is way too much competition out there and too few opportunities for people to be wasting their time on anything creative because that just does not pay. yet, time and again this is proved wrong. Common thought is based on fear and lack of resources and reacting to whatever comes along than enjoying life to the fullest (when I tell people I am enjoying life to the fullest they say I can’t do that) and experiencing everything you can to be rich at heart first, the basis for true success.

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Joshua Tilghman July 24, 2012 at 8:22 am

Kat,

I completely agree. The way is wide open, and it is the limiting beliefs and attitudes that we place on ourselves which limit life for us. As you say, having a rich inner life is the key. Thanks so much for your comment.

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Omar October 27, 2014 at 9:29 am

I enjoy reading your articles. What would you say the difference between spirit and soul is? Also that in comparison to the higher self and lower self? Is ego part of the soul. I have heard that the soul is emotions, will, consciousness, awareness. mind. I also heard that Ego is just a role that the soul plays here on earth. But the Ego can change from life to life. It is a bit confusing but I believe I becoming aware of the right understanding. Is there a difference between heart and mind? Maybe the are some subjects to talk about in articles. Or maybe you could refer to some that already have touched on these matters. Would it be right to spirit is the great “I Am” in us that connects soul to the source? Also because we have part of the great “I AM” in us does this mean we have the power to manifest anything we desire. I have noticed many people that teach metaphysics state if we use those to words in front of we desire we are capable of doing so.

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Joshua Tilghman December 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Omar,

The spirit is consciousness. The soul is the Experience of consciousness. The ego is a natural development of the conscious experience. And yes, the I AM is consciousness. Consciousness must be limited in order to experience itself, because consciousness is all there is. If you do a search for I AM in the sidebar you will see an article on this concept. I have also written posts about the higher and lower self which can be referred to from the search bar or archives.

Blessings.

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Scott October 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

Thank you for the quotes and article Josh!
It is easy to see how these quotes, and bible at large, have been misinterpreted so much. If I (you) read the quotes with the ego’s needs in mind, there will be misunderstanding and confusion every time. Conversely, if I (you) read them with the Holy Spirit (Christ Mindedness), I (you) will understand.
I have been thinking lately that everything I (we) want or believe I (we) need is a misguided, and doomed to fail, spiritual quest.
In a world of seeming separation from my (our) true self (selves) where I (we) feel lost, the ego is always close by with a ‘solution’ to my (our) continual and apparent desolation.
Acquiring Money, material possessions, experiential possessions (doing and experiencing things as posessions, i.e. sex, drugs and other bodily activities) or anything else that keeps my (our) attention away from truth are what the ego uses to ensure its survival and keep me (us) away from my (our) true identity of being Spirit.
Ultimately, it is impossible to follow two ‘(G)gods’ (following the Eternal One as my (our) true identity and the other ‘god’ known as the ego) but this is what the world is trying to do.
Focusing on acquiring money, posessions etc is the ego’s attempt to create a salvation in this world which will never happen being temporary fulfillment because it is impossible. What lasting peace can be attained with death as my (our) inevitable end?
There is nothing ‘wrong’ with making money and buying things I (we) want and enjoying food, drink, sex and other worldly experiences, but just as long as I (we)understand while I (we) am (are) pursuing them that they can only provide temporary satisfaction to my (our) ego and will not provide me (us) with any progress toward returning toward Oneness or realizing my (our) true identity.
If I (we) am (are) stressed, anxious, depressed, envious, mad, sad, etc, I (we) am (are) following the ego as a god and need to refocus my (our) current path. If I (we) feel the absense of the above emotions (states) as my (our) permanent state we can know we are on the the right Path to Oneness.
To stay on the Path will take vigilance on my (our) part in every moment of every day in this life to ensure my (our) return.

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Joshua Tilghman December 22, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Again, thanks for your comments, Scott.

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Lauryn January 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Hi Joshua
Interesting website. Just something that nags me which most preachers say.
You have to give to get, hence ,rampant offerings/tithing? It is as if one has to feed or pacify a weird pagan god. Do good to get good….is that really Grace?

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Joshua Tilghman January 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Lauryn, I believe there is much Grace in giving, however not through the tithe or ten percent of what you have. Giving is done not by formula, but through the heart. If you give, you will receive. I believe this to be a universal spiritual principle. But never let a preacher guilt you with a formula. Thanks.

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