Dwight L. Moody 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 than not, it can be 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.” The Bible has some things to say about prosperity.
In Deuteronomy 8, God gives a warning to the people of Israel who are 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” (v. 7-9). The Promised Land would be a land of God-given abundance. However, God gave a warning before they were to partake of the 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 from Him. God is warning them against forgetting who their Sustainer, Deliverer, and Provider is. 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 and lifting up her heart in pride. As Christians in America, we live in the land of plenty. We enjoy the fruits of those who have gone before us. And although none of us pray for adversity, it is often the difficult “valleys” of our life that drive us to God. It is when we are hopeless and broken that we look to the God of hope in order to be restored. 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 of God as our Sustainer. 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…” (Jms. 1:17).