Prosperity is a journey
Most people, particularly those in business, define one of the characteristics of prosperity as having low unemployment levels while enjoying high levels of consumer demand, matched with increased buying power, for most of the population.
However, God views prosperity a little differently. Part of prosperity is being satisfied with what you already possess, doing what you love and fulfilling the purpose for which God created. Lack of money does not mean a person is not prospering. Prosperity is a journey, it is an ongoing thing. The key is being on God's schedule and being in His will and purpose. A person may have cash/money/assets, but because prosperity has three main attributes - material, spiritual, physical - one has to be balanced in order to have true prosperity. So you can have money and not be experiencing true prosperity. Prosperity is a result of God's abundance. It has to be the quality of life commitment, dedication and action that is in line with God's word.
The Greek word for prosperity means, 'to help on the road; success in reaching." Divine prosperity is not a momentary passing phenomenon, but, rather, is ongoing. There are many principles that can bring prosperity, for example, the role of government in creating the environment and policies for job creation and other opportunities.
- Personal choices we make on a daily basis (Deuteronomy 28:1-14): One's doctrine/ personal philosophy. It is said that soundness of health (physical and spiritual) impinges on soundness of doctrine and beliefs (1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 4:3; Titus 2:1).
- Praying for a balanced life (3 John vs 2): Trust in God, it is the beginning of prosperity. It would therefore be a sin to look to your politician or banker to bring you prosperity (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
There is a great deal of wisdom in this scripture. Regardless of famine/drought, those who trust in God will always experience His prosperity. But the one who puts his trust in man will ultimately experience poverty. The symbols God uses to represent prosperity to His people (even in dreams) are fruits and trees. Not prospering would mean that the season within which your tree should bring forth fruit, it is not. In Mark 11, when the Lord cursed the fig tree, it happened because the season within which that tree should have borne fruit, it did not. There were leaves on the tree, but no fruit. Interestingly, it was spring, and the fig tree should have been bearing fruit in that time.
Regardless of the various chronological, geographical or theological thoughts on this scripture, the main theme is that the tree symbolised Israel, because Israel was not fulfilling its mandate at that time. So, when a nation is in God's will, prosperity is inevitable. God desires fruit, not leaves. A fig tree first bears fruit then the leaves come. Therefore, in this case, the leaves without the fruit would be a deception.
Before we can experience true prosperity, we must first possess the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Furthermore, one has to have a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit because He is the river; and no tree can live without water. Many are looking to man to bring prosperity while ignoring God's principles. Carnality and logic/intellect will not bring prosperity because they do not give one the opportunity to discern, and, as a result, one can miss opportunities to prosper. In order to prosper, a person has to be planted. No tree can bear fruit unless it is planted and watered. This applies to 'church-hoppers' and those looking for a quick fix, Recognise also that righteousness and the anointing also bring prosperity.
PALMS AND CEDARS
Palms and cedars are some of the largest and oldest trees and can even survive more than 1,000 years. God's favour, grace and our tithing are a few of the keys to prosperity. For example, March to April, when spring begins, is one of the greatest seasons to give and to resurrect some dead visions, plans and ideas. Can you imagine the possibilities if individuals, groups and even nations took the opportunity to give during that time? What favour, debt write-offs and victories they would receive.
It is interesting. If a child had to choose between milk and a Mercedes, he would choose milk because he would have no need for the Mercedes; milk is more valuable to him. Prosperity is a journey, indeed.
• Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.