A young local “flamboyant” prophet recently celebrated his 24th birthday and reports say bashes were held in his honour in three days at three different venues in Harare.
Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi
While normally I would shy away from treading on these prophets who have popped up in the country, I found the story so disturbing I decided to revisit the subject of prosperity as relayed in the Bible.
This particular church leader, who belongs to a brigade of young prosperity preachers who roll in the latest rides while enjoying lavish lifestyles, reportedly went on to treat some 110 children living in the streets to some “pizza, chicken and a $1 200 chariot birthday cake”.
I find it tragic that those same children have obviously gone back to their sordid life in the streets after that encounter with “The man of God”.
What troubles me is that these preachers’ messages are often tinted with promises of instant riches that one does not have to work for. Clearly, absent is the message on the dignity of work as well as the enduring value and lasting fulfilment brought about as a result, which is far greater than the transient satisfaction and quick dissipation of profits accrued through get-rich-quick schemes frowned upon in the Bible.
In recent years, as Pentecostalism has continued to sweep through the church like a raging fire, what has been described as the gospel of prosperity has become a major point of conjecture. In some instances, it has actually been elevated into a doctrine and is now being sold like a commodity from the pulpits.
What is disturbing, however, is that in many instances, the message of prosperity, which is essentially biblical, has been packaged in such a way that some now believe one can simply walk into material riches after just claiming them! Understandably, against this backdrop, many people have left their churches after this promise of material wealth turned out to be an illusion.
Yes, material riches are an entitlement to the believer. But what is important is to appreciate that these are just a by-product of blessings, which are primarily spiritual.
The Bible describes such, including healing in Mark 7:28, as “the children’s bread” and, for me, that implies these are minor benefits in the greater scheme of things. The emphasis that has been given to the message of prosperity at the expense of the virtues of diligence is what has made the former sound almost like a discordant note in the otherwise sweet rhythm of the wholesome gospel.
One has to work for their wealth. This comes out clearly as one goes through the book of Proverbs, that rich repository of wisdom compiled by the greatest man who ever walked this earth apart from the Lord Jesus Christ—King Solomon. In his many lucid observations, Solomon noted: “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” (Proverbs 6:10-11).
Clearly, for one to hedge themselves against poverty, they need to roll up their sleeves and get to work. It doesn’t matter how many messages on prosperity that you hear from the pulpit, as long as you sit back and watch the world go by, you are not going to prosper because, as observed further down in Proverbs 4:10, the lazy will sink into poverty while the hard workers attract riches.
However, I know people who worked hard all their lives but at the end, when looked at in retrospect, they never prospered and died with nothing to show for all the years of hard work.
What that basically means is that while they had created a channel through which they could have received riches, the spiritual blessing—which the Bible says brings riches—was lacking; “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22).
There are a number of spiritual laws that we find in the Bible which we can use as stepping stones to prosperity. God is more interested in our motives when we ask him for something. If the Lord is to bless you with tangible wealth, for example, there should be a Godly reason. As a seed of Abraham, you also have to be a channel through which God can touch other people’s lives. This thought is clarified by Jesus in Luke 6:38 where he said what you give will be multiplied back to you, “running over”. That multiplication occurs so that you and your family not only have enough, but more to extend the reach of your charity because “running over” is more than enough to meet your individual needs.
In Proverbs 11:24, we are told that the way to become wealthier is through “giving freely”. So it definitely takes more than confessing, declaring and claiming that you are rich.
Many believers have confessed their riches in the prayer room but never saw the results because they did not actualise their faith through.