Loopholes to laziness...that's what we want! There was a funny plaque on the wall of a Christian gift store that read,
Lord, grant me the ability to win the lottery;
so that I may show you that riches won't spoil my Faith.
While the humor is undeniable, and I was tempted to buy it just to support a good laugh, it's important to remember that the fruits of our labors are gained by God blessing the work of our hands; literally and figuratively. That's how He designed things to work from the beginning, so embracing the quick/easy ways often puts us at great risk.
Instead of exercise and eating right, we see billions spent on crazy diets, pills, and even surgery. Instead of earning a living, we see abuse of the welfare system. Instead of good money management practices, we see money flying out the window on things some of the most ridiculous things (remember the pet rock idea that made someone a millionaire?). The great fantasy of many is that we will win the lottery or stumble on riches some other way without much effort.
In order to understand true prosperity, and understand what God expects of us during this life, we should consider a view of prosperity as one that is defined by the relationships we have with our neighbors, friends, and family...and, among these, family has the most potential for prosperity. Remember that virtually every comment in the Bible where God says he will bless us, forgive us, or do something great for us beyond what we deserve...there is an Almighty "if" clause attached. "IF" you turn away from evil..."IF" you keep my commandments..."IF" you repent and change your ways.... The "IF" clauses are where you find the labor God is looking for in our thoughts, words and deeds.
Prosperity isn't money, material possession, or power over people... we all know this at different levels. Prosperity is what happens when you have a healthy relationship with the people around you, the desire to take action on earning a living so you can put food on the table, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head. Prosperity is worshiping God with a pure conscience, while expecting nothing in return and being thankful for all that you have.
God gives a way to experience true prosperity, and he blesses it directly. Psalm 128 is probably the most direct blessing we see of the Family unit. It tells us what comes from a husband, wife, and children, when they respectfully and humbly walk in the ways of the Lord. It is in a functional, non-abusive, Family unit that we understand how to work through hard times, support eachother, give someone a hand up instead of a hand out, and hold eachother mutually accountable to do "the right" things in the eyes of God. From a solid Family unit, society at large is blessed by God.
We have a responsibility as a community to come out of our homes, get to know our neighbors, and be open about the fact that we are Christians; in actions, far more than words. When was the last time you invited a neighbor over, visited a friend's church, actually shook hands with a new neighbor just to be nice, or organized/attended a family reunion? You might find that getting out of the house, working with your neighbors in person, and building up your family relationships just might yield the blessings and fruits of your labors that God is ready to bestow upon you.
Your feedback is always welcome via email (email@example.com), phone (803-530-4851), or feel free to discuss in person at Saint Katherine's on Sunday mornings at 9:30am.
May God, Almighty, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit bless and keep you and your family always!
Fr. Tony Bryant
Saint Katherine Orthodox Christian Church
1050 Clay Hill Rd. in Pelion, SC