Everyone loves to hear that we are going to be made prosperous. The reason is found in the derivation of the word “prosperous” coming from the Latin “spes,” meaning hope.
Much of America’s future hope is based on people having a reliable job, equitable financial means for living comfortably, access to education that leads to upward mobility and a safe environment.
This is justifiable, but like anything precious it can possess a dark side when the Golden Rule is ignored and we forget to do unto others as we want them to do unto us. When this truth of the matter is missing, prosperity becomes meaningless.
But how do we define true prosperity? The answer is Christ, the truth, who taught us God’s way of living the truth. Take, for example, a sometimes overlooked lesson contained in Christ’s miracles.
Much of his ministry is to the blind, lame, lepers and those possessed by demons. The wonder of his miracles is not so much the healing of these persons but restoring them to society.
They have a new life filled with the brightness of companionship again; they are no longer outcasts. In restoring their hope, true prosperity is achieved.
In his book “Power and Responsibility,” author Romano Guardini points out God blessed us with the ethical, moral responsibility of shaping life as God intends it. Our duty in shaping life is to seek out its disorders and restore them to order and heavenly harmony.
When the spirit of seeking heavenly order is embraced, true prosperity follows.
In associating with “undesirables,” Christ points us to one of the best means for creating heavenly order. Look at his conversations with the Samaritan woman at the well, Zacchaeus the tax collector and Mary Magdalene the sinner.
And even while on the cross, Christ forgives a criminal — exemplifying that no barrier should ever stop us from reaching out to another, no matter who he or she is. He goes against the grain of society and enters into its dark side to cast his redeeming light on it.
Prosperity is often pictured as upward mobility and economic progress. Be this true, what is the ultimate driving spirit behind it? Is it a spirit that looks only inwardly and to self-advancement, or is it a spirit driven by a heart seeking the good of others? Does it reflect the true meaning of prosperity?