Columnists Opinion Religion West Edition

PASTOR’S CORNER: Gifts of intellect, reason are tools for our prosperity

It’s a commodity of life we all need, want and which seems to elude us when we need it most. And we never seem to have enough of it, even though we spend a lifetime pursuing it. Have you figured out what this commodity is?

It’s the almighty dollar – money.

Several phrases exist to convince God to solve our money needs. I’m sure these few will ring a bell: “When praises go up, blessings come down”… “Name it and claim it”… “God is no respecter of persons, what he’s done for me, he’ll do for you.”

I’ve heard glowing reports of these theories at work from individuals, but I’m skeptical, unless they work for everybody all the time.

The problem with theories such as these is that they place the responsibility for our financial prosperity squarely on God’s shoulders, as though we have no part in the process. This is backward thinking and there are scriptures in the Bible that clearly place the primary responsibility on our shoulders, not God’s – although he does play a part.

At your leisure, read over what God said to Israel in Deuteronomy 8:7-16. He reminded them of the material prosperity they enjoyed during the exodus and after settling down in the promise land. Then in verse 17, he observed that they had begun to take credit for their good fortune; that their prosperity resulted from their own strength.

God quickly let them know where it all came from in verse 18 where he cautioned them not to get it twisted with these words: “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power (ability) to get wealth.” They had forgotten where that ability to prosper originated. We would do well today to remember where our ability originated.

Today’s ability is our brainpower, gray matter, intelligence – all of which came from God. Through these abilities, we are able to educate ourselves in the world of finance; learn how money works in this society, and apply that knowledge to our benefit. The degree to which one avails himself of this knowledge dictates the level of wealth he or she is able to reach.

This is one explanation for the disparity in levels of prosperity among humankind; but we find another reason in Proverbs 10:4, where God, through the pen of Solomon, reveals the lot of those who, through deceit, prosper in life. He says they will become needy and be in lack, while those who do the right thing will become rich. These are promises from God, not suppositions.

In these passages, God is teaching us that there is a right way and a wrong way to do anything. The right way is His way, as found in the Holy Scriptures; the wrong way has its roots in the desires of the flesh.

The choice is ours.

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles.

Pastor’s Corner is a new religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture to life today. The column will appear monthly in the Wave and its website,