Where does wealth our come from? From hard work or sheer luck? Is it self-made or a gift from God? Is it a result of righteousness or wickedness?
We’ve all seen or heard of a hard worker navigating financial rapids to finally find comfort and security, or a group of friends who pool together to buy a lottery ticket worth a $100M. We’ve also watched the wicked prosper through their devices while the righteous become suddenly destitute through deception.
None of these situations are permanent. Some are tests. Sometimes, rare-do-wells obey true principles that lead to a degree of financial success, but are not true to themselves or to their Maker. Notwithstanding evidence to the contrary, there appears to be some unpredictability to how the wheel of wealth turns, as the Preacher bemoans in Ecclesiastes:
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 8:14.)
In response to the first question in this post, that is, where does our wealth come from, I love the answer given by Moses, among his final words to Israel after 40 years in the wilderness with plenty of chances to think about life:
But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:18.)
The power to get wealth—I would say lasting wealth, the kind that is of more value than money—comes from our Father and Maker. Wealth, riches, and prosperity (see, for example, 2 Nephi 1:9, 20) are promised by covenant to the followers of God; however, wealth and security cannot be long held if smallness of mind, greed, selfishness, or arrogance creep in. It is given by God, but also by obedience to law. Disobey His laws and promises vaporize.
In Proverbs chapter 8 we read that those who are moved by God’s wisdom have blessings of wealth bestowed upon them:
I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. (Proverbs 8:20–21.)
I love Psalm 112, which in 10 verses teaches these concepts beautifully. Here is a brief application (my application) of it, a great cross reference to Proverbs 8 and pattern for prosperity if there ever was one.
Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments (v. 1).
Men and women who reverence God and delight in His way of life are blessed. This reverence implies a devoted heart rather than a sly or hypocritical one. A flowering of a real person, not the weeds of a trickster.
2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
Their children will be strong and blessed, not doubt the beneficiaries of good examples.
3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
Naturally (but I might add, not automatically), wealth and riches appear in their homes and within their families, that is, wealth in its purest form—not just gold and silver but good health, strong relationships, wonderful experiences, and opportunities.
4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
Even in dark times, the women and men who follow God from the heart are led by His light, and such an one is kind and compassionate in spite of circumstance.
5 A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
So compassionate are these men and women that they share the good things with others in wisdom and good judgment.
6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
They are not moved or removed by fear or deception, and are loved and respected by those around them.
7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.
They don’t worry. They don’t rub sweaty palms together over the future. Their hearts are fixed on the mark of divine love, and they trust the Highest from their hearts.
8 His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
Their lives are established on a true testimony of the living God and of His revelations and His unfailing support to those who seek it. They are protected from their enemies.
9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.
They are generous. They share their wealth freely and assist the poor—essentially, the poor are anyone in need. The horn in this context is a metaphor for “strength . . . honor . . . power, dominion, glory, and fierceness.”
10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.
The ego-drenched cannot countenance the success of others. It squeezes their competition gland until it oozes gall. Their selfish and often harmful desires are met with aggravation, even when they appear to be satisfied from a worldly point of view. They live outside their true nature and stomp their feet in frustration. They engage (and enrage) the lower self.
Lasting wealth comes from God and is His gift, as promised in holy scripture. We are privileged to hold it if we can hold out faithful in obedience and integrity. Money can be obtained through wickedness, but lasting riches come from being at one with our Creator and at one with ourselves.
Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19.)