First of all, I am encouraged by your desire to want to know, from Scripture what true prosperity is. This tells me you want to “prosper” in order to live a godly life and glorify God.

I would define “worldly prosperity” as acquiring “worldly possessions” in order to gratify your lusts and to glorify yourself. Jesus warned against this in Luke 12:15 and Matthew 6:19, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the THINGS HE POSSESSES…Do not LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES ON EARTH, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (NKJV). We know that when earthly possessions are the focus of one’s life, they will not be satisfied, for they only bring “temporary enjoyment.”  In time these possessions will “lose their charm” and there will be the need to replace them with yet another earthly possession which will also prove to be a “fleeting treasure” that fails to bring lasting satisfaction. The richest man that ever lived had this to say about worldly possessions, “He who loves silver will NOT BE SATISFIED with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This is also VANITY” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). These so-called “riches” may also, as the Lord said in Matthew 6:19, be destroyed or stolen which adds to the inability of them to bring satisfaction. Solomon went on to say in verse 14, “But those riches PERISH through misfortune.” And then when at last the person dies, Solomon said, “As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand” (verse 15). Throughout the book that he was inspired to write he uses the word VANITY over and over again, for whatever form of “worldly prosperity” that one seeks and attains proves to be EMPTY! It leaves the soul yearning for more and it will never fill the VOID in their heart.

Now let’s muse on “true prosperity.” After speaking of not laying up “treasures on earth,” the Lord Jesus went on to say, “but lay up for yourselves TREASURES IN HEAVEN, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). Ah, here is “true prosperity,” for if we seek and gain treasures that are laid up in heaven they will never be destroyed or stolen, and the heart will, at last, find “true satisfaction.” Perhaps we should list some of the THINGS that result in “laying up treasures in heaven.”

1) MONEY that is USED TO MEET the NEEDS of men and women. “Command those who are rich in this present age not be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them DO GOOD, that they BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, READY TO GIVE, WILLING TO SHARE, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1st Timothy 6:17-19). See also Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37 and 2nd Corinthians 8:1-7; 9:1-13.

2) WINNING SOULS TO CHRIST and ESTABLISHING THEM in the truth. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1st Thessalonians 2:19). The Apostle Paul had preached the gospel to those in Thessalonica and many had trusted in Christ for salvation (see 1:4-10). They had become the “fruits of Paul’s labor” in the gospel and he looked forward to the day when they were all in heaven. They would prove to be his “crown of rejoicing” (bringing him “everlasting joy” in heaven). This would be his reward for faithfully preaching the gospel to them, winning them to Christ, and confirming them in the faith. In that sense he knew that “winning souls to Christ” was another way of “laying up treasures in heaven.”

3) SUFFERING WITH CHRIST. “And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we SUFFER WITH HIM, that we may also be GLORIFIED TOGETHER” (Romans 8:17). This verse teaches us that ALL BELIEVERS WILL SUFFER WITH CHRIST and in heaven we will be GLORIFIED WITH HIM, but we can infer from this also that the more we are willing to suffer here and now (on earth), the more we will enjoy the glory then (in heaven). Thus we learn that being willing to suffer with Christ is yet another way of “laying up treasures on earth.” Moses provides us with an example of this in Hebrews 11:24-26, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to SUFFER AFFLICTION with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the REPROACH OF CHRIST GREATER RICHES THAN THE TREASURES IN EGYPT; for he looked to the reward.”

4) WORSHIPPING CHRIST. “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12:3). Mary was willing to give up “earthly treasures” to display her love for Christ and to show how worthy He was. The disciples who witnessed this thought it was a “waste of money,” but the Lord rebuked them with these words, “Why do you trouble the woman? For has DONE A GOOD WORK FOR ME…For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done be done as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:10, 12-13). Mary’s act of worship brought such approbation from the Lord that He said it should “be told as a MEMORIAL TO HER; in other words, the Lord REMEMBERS IT and others should too. Surely it will be REMEMBERED and REWARDED in heaven and is another example of “laying up treasures in heaven.”

In closing, the Apostle John wrote to a man named Gaius and he said, “Beloved, I pray that YOU MAY PROSPER in all things and be in health, JUST AS YOUR SOUL PROSPERS” (3rd John 2). His prayer for Gaius was for “true prosperity” and if we will take to heart and practice what we have just seen in these FOUR EXAMPLES of “laying up treasures in heaven” we will surely “PROSPER in all things.”  (434.5)  (DO)