Prosperity has little to do with temporal success and more to do with spiritual resilience and the fortitude of the soul. Prosperity is the divine enablement that helps you overcome obstacles in order to fulfill a purpose— the capacity you need to maximize your potential to create change.
If you look at the definitions of prosperous, you will see the first word in its definition is auspicious. Auspicious has an interesting meaning. It is rooted in the word auspice, which indicates “a prophetic sign.” Thus, to be auspicious means that things are going “according to favorable auspices,” or prophetic signs or words. The Latin for “prosper”—prospere—is translated “according to expectation” or “according to hope”—and literally means “for hope.” The word prosperous also means, “enjoying vigorous and healthy growth” or “flourishing.” According to Merriam-Webster, prosper means “to become strong” as well as “to cause to succeed or thrive.”
These are the roots or inner components of prosperity. Yes, to be prosperous also means “economic well-being,” and to prosper also means “to achieve economic success,” but I would submit to you that those are really outer manifestations of an inner condition—an internal state of wellness, growth, and expectancy—of what I believe is true prosperity. I have seen time and again that to be prosperous on the outside means nothing if you are not prosperous on the inside—and that being prosperous on the inside almost always leads to prosperity being evident from without. If you are prosperous on the outside only and lose your financial wealth, you are finished. If you are prosperous on the inside, however, and lose your financial wealth, you generally find a way to start over and rebuild it. Prosperity is a spiritual state that not only gives you psychological and emotional fortitude—even in the midst of the most adverse circumstances—but also the hope, faith, and love that never fails.
For those who acknowledge prosperity merely by outward and financial measures, prosperity could be reduced to owning a big house, driving the latest new car, and living an opulent lifestyle. So many people enjoy that kind of life, but live with holes in their souls. If prosperity were simply a matter of “getting,” anyone could borrow large sums of money or con their way into financial wealth through crooked “investment” schemes. Ambitious people could work long hours while ignoring their marriage and health, climb the corporate ladder by stepping on others, or any number of other ways people trade their souls to achieve “prosperity”—little by little, day by day doing whatever it takes to look prosperous. I call this the Ebenezer Scrooge Syndrome—living empty while facing death sitting on a pile of ever-diminishing wealth.
There is another kind of prosperity that, while it may require us to be more patient and intentional, is so much richer. It is a more pervasive prosperity—a prosperity rooted in wholeness. It recognizes that true prosperity is not about making a living but building a life. At the center is one’s soul—one’s core being—the source of vitality, potential, and contentment. It realizes that true riches are not measured by what we own, but by what we give— that the most rewarding balance sheet is not our net worth, but the extent to which we’ve positively affected the lives of others. It understands that true physical health comes out of spiritual strength and a thriving soul. It acknowledges that money is not an end unto itself, but a tool that can be used to extend God’s love and His Kingdom. Prosperity is really summed up in the lives we touch, the influence we exert for the better, and the joy we experience as we learn, grow, create, and connect with others every day of our lives. It is about living in the fullness of Christ so we can do more toward making our communities safer, our governments more effective, our families healthier, and letting our “lights so shine” that through the provision of God, others might see our good works and glorify Him. It is about our style of living—versus a particular lifestyle. As Paul told Timothy, it is godliness that is “profitable for all things.”