The Prosperity Gospel is the Gospel that says “obey God and He will make you rich, healthy, and/or wise.” Now God could very well do that, He’s God and He can do whatever He pleases, but not just because you were obedient. Take Solomon for example – 1 Kings 3 – He asks for wisdom and “10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” God granted Solomon what He asked for. Should we be surprised? Never.
Living your life like He’s some genie in a bottle is pointless though. God blesses who he blesses. Acting in obedience in hopes of being materialistically blessed is no obedience at all. What kind of relationship is that? – “I love you for what you can give me” – A lot of American marriages are built on that false sense of security…why do you think prenuptial agreements came about? When the money and stuff are gone, the relationship has nothing to stand on. What happened to for richer and for poorer? That’s for another day…
Moving on, I completely agree with Piper. Life is not about you. Jesus said: If you’re going to follow me you have to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me (paraphrase Luke 9:22). That means to lay it all aside and look only to Him. But with that in mind, there has to be a line somewhere. A line that divides making God appear like a genie in a bottle and giving God the credit for what He has given you, for how He has blessed you. There are so many things in my life where God has been instrumental in the process of fulfilling our needs and our desires. For instance, when I was first ministry we bought a small home that needed a lot of work, including a new kitchen. We gutted it entirely, including the floor. A man in our church put in poured gym floors, but we knew he knew a lot about wood floors as well. After talking with him he said we could come look at his kitchen floor that he put in. While were looking at it he said he had some extra in the garage. A man who does flooring for a living had 10 extra boxes of wood flooring after completing his floor a year prior. Those 10 boxes covered 220 square feet. We went home and measured our kitchen…202 square feet. Coincidence? Although others may say otherwise, I think not. God is in the small stuff. I could tell multiple stories like this where you would have to be blind to see God at work.
And thus the difference between God’s provision and the prosperity gospel. It’s not that God loves some more than others, or that they were/are more obedient than you. To be jealous and say that someone else has things they don’t deserve is to say you think you know better than God and He has unequally distributed the wealth. He knows what we need, when we need it. You think you know better? That’s an argument you can have with Him. All I know is the less I become self-sufficient and rely on Him, the more He provides in ways that astound me. That doesn’t necessarily mean He provides in a materialistic way either, but His way.