Jim Carey said, “I think everyone should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
I’m reading the little Old Testament book of Amos. He wrote to Israel during the zenith of it’s prosperity and power in the world. But his message was not a positive one.
It’s not that Israel’s prosperity was a bad thing. Instead, He seems to indicate that they were blessed with riches and influence in the world. And he promises those who turn their hearts toward Yahweh that God would bless them with prosperity far beyond what they were enjoying.
But their problem was complacency.
While wealth and power in and of themselves are not bad, they often lead to complacency of soul, which is always a bad thing. It’s why he warns them, “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria.”
So Amos gives his readers some basic reminders that can help us. After all, living in America, we enjoy a lot more material prosperity than Israel during their height of wealth when Amos was writing. Here’s the takeaway for us from his message.
• Prosperity is a test. It’s not good or bad, but it tests our hearts, whether they be good or bad. It’s what we do with our prosperity that is moral, not whether or not we have it. Paul wrote this to Pastor Timothy, but boy does it apply to us! “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1Timothy 6:17).
• Complacency is the problem. That’s why he said, “Woe to those who are at ease…” He was speaking of the way they were enjoying their wealth but were not using it for good purposes. God has everyone here for a reason. You are alive on purpose. You are not here simply to enjoy yourself. But on the other hand, you will get a lot more out of of life if you are going after what God created you for.
• It tends to obscure God. Twice in chapter five, God says through Amos, “Seek Me and live!”, “Seek Yahweh and live!” (5:4 & 5:6).This is for those who are rich or poor, powerful or weak. A life of meaning and joy is only realized when your purpose is being fulfilled. And everyone’s purpose begins with bringing pleasure to our Creator. That’s where it starts.
Some of the nicest, most generous and godly and fulfilled people I’ve ever known have been rich people. And some of the most selfish, stingy, and unhappy people I’ve known have also been rich people. Whether or not your life takes on significance is not based on how much wealth you have. It’s what you do with it, and whether or not your heart leads your possessions to honor God, or your possessions lead your heart away from God.
That’s the essence of prosperity, it’s a very accurate test of who you are. What’s your score?