The 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody once said, “We can stand affliction better than prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.” A Baptist minister who suffered under Romanian communist rule said, “Ninety percent of Christians pass the test of adversity, while ninety percent of Christians fail the test of prosperity.” Prosperity can be a blessing but more often it can become a curse. For many years, America has enjoyed the fruits of prosperity. In fact, the poorest people in America have a better standard of living than most of the world. According to Forbes.com, “the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.” As Christians in America, we live in a state of prosperity. But may we take heed to warning of the potential dangers of prosperity that God gave to the Israelites in the Old Testament.
In Deuteronomy 8, God gives a warning to the people of Israel who were on the brink of entering “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths…a land of wheat…barley…vines…fig trees…pomegranates…oil olive…honey…a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness” (vv. 7-9). The Promised Land would be a land of God-given abundance. However, God gave a warning before they entered the land which contained such privileges. He said, “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments” (v. 11). He warned them of lifting up their hearts and saying in their hearts “my power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (v. 17). God reminded them to not forget who the source of their blessing was and to allow it to turn their eyes away from Him. God warned them not to forget who their Sustainer, Deliverer, and Provider was. God said, “…if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods…I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish” (v. 19).
Israel was in danger of forgetting God when she was in prosperity. Her danger was forgetting the God who had so richly blessed them. She was in danger of lifting up her heart in pride and taking credit for the good things God had so richly provided. As Christians in America, we live in the land of plenty. Even in seasons when we lack, many of us enjoy far more than most people in the world. We must beware that our prosperity doesn’t blind us to the blessings of God or cause us to lift up our hearts in pride and take credit for the good things God has richly blessed us with. God does not forbid His people to eat and enjoy physical blessing. However, He does provide us a warning against taking pride in our abundance and allowing it to turn our eyes off God as our Sustainer and Provider. Hosea 13:6 says, “According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.” May we never take credit for the blessings God has given us but realize that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17).
~Pastor Aaron Francis