I’m enough of a geek that the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “prosper” is, naturally, “Live long and prosper.” But the second thing that comes to mind is one of my favorite Bible passages, Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
The interesting thing about the word “prosper” in these two passages is that it’s almost a reversal of itself. In “Live long and prosper,” prospering is something that is happening to you. It’s internal. It's passive. But in the Bible passage, prospering is something that God is actively doing for and to you: He is causing you to prosper. Prospering isn’t just something you do for yourself or that just happens to you that benefits you; it’s something you can do for someone else that benefits them.
Prosperity has been a goal of American culture ever since the country was founded. We strive to prosper, to be successful, to be financially sound, to fulfill all our own needs. But what about the other sense of the word? Do we strive to help others prosper? Do we try to help others be successful and financially sound? Do we actively work to fulfill their needs? Do we prosper them?
As a Christian, I believe that I am created in the image of God, and that I am charged with striving to be more like Him. So how am I prospering others and not harming them? How am I giving others a hope and a future? Am I sharing the prosperity that God has given to me?