JO cropWords. Who can deny their power? James said that the tongue has the power of life and death. The author of Proverbs says that kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

There is no doubt that scores of people have become enslaved by words that were said to them or even words they keep repeating to themselves. Among my social media contacts, I have those who are perpetually wallowing in negativity. If they are planning a day in the park with the kids and it starts raining, they don’t think of ways to make the best of it, they go to FB and whine about it.

Sure, words have power, but not magical powers. And this is my biggest objection to the teachings of people like Joel Osteen. He’s hung up on this whole idea that speaking words out loud has the power to prophesy our future. I call that “word theology.”

I find a different story in Scriptures. The concept of speaking words to create reality is foreign to Scriptures. Of course, God did it, when He spoke the world into existence. Jesus did it, when He commanded Spirits to leave and calmed storms, but where in the Bible are we taught to repeat certain things in order to bring them about in our lives?

Jesus said “ask, seek, knock,” and it will be given to you. He didn’t say, “Repeat these words every day until they become reality in your life.” Joel says that what comes after the “I am” is the trigger point. So, if you say, “I am prosperous,” even if you are dirt poor, eventually wealth will come calling your name. My reading of Scriptures tells me that it’s not about what comes after the “I am,” it’s about the “I AM.” Jesus is the ultimate source of blessings, and a vibrant relationship with Him is far more important than anything else in the world.

There is no magic in words. After you get saved, you still have work to do. Having a positive attitude will help for sure, but having a link to the Person of prosperity instead of a prosperity person will reap the most benefit in the long run.

Finally, let me just say that after reading several of Joel’s books, I am convinced that his greatest flaw is his incomplete use of Scriptures. He will take an isolated word, sometimes half of a sentence, coin a catchy phrase that summarizes a popular concept, and present it as Biblical truth.

I am not saying he does it on purpose, I am not suggesting deception. I actually believe Joel is genuinely engaged in the people-helping business. His heart is motivated to do the right thing, but he is falling way short of offering sustainable help. I will give plenty of examples this Sunday of how he misuses specific biblical texts. His books are littered with that.

My opinion is that in his enthusiasm for helping broken people, Joel has become overzealous to develop a theology of wealth and prosperity but he has failed miserably to develop a theology of suffering. As one who seeks to communicate God’s truth week after week, we must do better than that.

And that’s my word for today. God bless Joel.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA