myths about prosperity

17 Myths About Prosperity

David CerulloBy David Cerullo8 Minutes

Excerpt from 17 Myths About Prosperity by David Cerullo

Myth #4: Advocates of prosperity are promoting a self-centered, ‘name it and claim it’ spirituality.

God is a loving Father who wants to bless us as His children with abundant prosperity. However, the Bible is adamant that this prosperity definitely should NOT lead to hoarding or self-indulgence.

God’s prosperity has a purpose. He blesses us so we can BE a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2). He wants us to use our material resources to take the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth. He calls us to be generous in helping the poor, reminding us that “the generous man will be prosperous” (Proverbs 11:25 NASB).

Any so-called prosperity message that fails to result in blessing others is falling dreadfully short of God’s intention! Just as God Himself is the preeminent GIVER (John 3:16), He wants His people to reflect that same compassion for others:

Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2).

You see, far from being self-indulgent, God’s prosperity is full of love and self-sacrifice. Jesus stated His prosperity plan very succinctly: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). It’s not selfish to receive, if you obey Jesus’ command to give.

Filled to Overflowing

Most believers have a view of prosperity that is much smaller than God intends. They would be thrilled just to have enough money to pay their bills each month—but the Lord wants to give us so much more! He is able “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

A popular praise chorus a few decades ago was called “Fill My Cup, Lord.” But as wonderful as it would be to have a “full cup” of God’s blessings, that is far less than what He promises! Instead of just filling our cup, He wants it to overflow with enough blessings to spill out into to a lost and needy world:

My cup overflows (Psalm 23:5).

The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust,My great army which I sent among you” (Joel 2:24-25).

Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine (Proverbs 3:9-10).

Misusing the Message

“But David,” you may be thinking, “surely you’ll admit that some preachers are using the prosperity message in an unscrupulous and self-centered way.”

Of course, some preachers have twisted what the Bible says about prosperity. Should that be any surprise? Every significant teaching in the Bible has been perverted at one time or another!

The Gospel frequently has been twisted, but does that mean we should discard it? Certainly not!

What should we do if some people preach the Gospel or teach on God’s prosperity with improper motives? Paul faced this same problem in his day:

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice (Philippians 1:15-18).

Paul was rejoicing that, regardless of whether a preacher’s motives were pure or not, God’s truth was going out!

Remember: The remedy for misuse of a doctrine is not disuse but proper use. Just because some unscrupulous people have misused the prosperity message, it would be foolish to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

“Name It and Claim It”

Sometimes the prosperity message is derisively referred to as “name it and claim it.” I’m not fully sure why this phrase is looked upon with such disdain by critics of the prosperity message—for in many cases we DO need to “name and claim” the promises in God’s Word!

Perhaps the critics have gotten the impression that advocates of God’s prosperity have reduced it all to a tight little formula—devoid of our actual relationship with the Lord—and I’m sure that has been true in some cases. The bottom line of the prosperity message should be to bring people into an intimate covenant relationship with God, not to merely teach them hocus pocus formulas for how they can get what they want from Him.

But before you reject “name it and claim it” entirely, let’s look at what the Bible says about the influence of our words on whether we receive answers to our prayers:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).

Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things (James 3:4-5).

Both of these passages describe the incredible power of our words. Our tongue has the power of “death and life,” and our lives will reflect the fruit of our lips. Just as a small rudder sets the direction of the entire ship, so will our tongue determine the course of our life.


Order your copy of 17 Myths About Prosperity by David Cerullo