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The Dark Side of Prosperity

Updated: Apr 9

The Dark Side of Prosperity

There is a dark side to our prosperity. The love of wealth is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

The wise man Agur, for example, even prayed not to become rich,

Remove far from me falsehood and lying.

give me neither poverty nor riches.

feed me with the food that is needful for me,

lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”

or lest I be poor and steal

and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8–9)

Agur learned from Israel’s history which repeated itself over and over the pattern of first blessing, forgetfulness, idolatry, discipline, and exile, and finally repentance. Moses warned at the beginning the people were growing fat and forgetful.

Later Jesus in his epistles rebukes the prosperous church of Laodicea for their lukewarmness,

I know your work: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:15–17)

The dark side of our prosperity is that it can make us forgetful of God or have no zeal toward him.

Our prosperity and comfort tempt us to love our luxuries and regard radical living for Christ as foolish and reckless. We like to think we are tough and that we do without many things, but the reality is many of us are soft and coddled. Our Lord has commissioned all of us to extend his kingdom, rescue lost souls, and fight back against shadows and dark spirits. His commission requires us to exchange luxuries and comforts for hardships and crosses (Luke 9:23). He assigns all of us to sacrifice ourselves to meet others’ needs, put what is earthly in us to death, confront brothers/sisters entangled in iniquity/sin, count our life as cheap compared to his glory, stand against the likes of the world, the flesh, and Satan, and should it come to it, to leave all behind and die for his name. Daily he asks us to go out into the vast world, even when that is just across the street to speak the gospel to and aid our neighbors.

God calls us to live faithfully in our circumstances. One of the hardest lessons we must learn is how to face abundance.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12–13)

Paul shows us we need to learn the secret to facing plenty. We all need help in the school of hard knocks and soft beds. Paul learned the secret of how to abound without letting it corrupt him: he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.

We need Christ’s strength in our prosperity, to live focused on heaven, to risk reputation and fortune, and to make it clear in a land full of comfort and abundance, we seek a better country — a heavenly country.

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