By Bruce Green
Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ in Opelika
Deuteronomy 8 should be required reading for everyone as we make our way out of the wilderness. It begins with God telling Israel that one of the purposes of the wilderness experience was to humble them and teach them that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. We are totally dependent upon Him—from the sun that shines to the air we breathe and everything in between.
The chapter then fast-forwards to the time when Israel is settled in the land.
They live in houses rather than tents; the land is productive, and their stomachs are full—they lack nothing. This lovely pastoral picture (which symbolizes what all of us want to get back to) comes with a hardcore warning.
What is it?
That prosperity can dull them. It won’t happen all at once. It will sneak up on them one small, subtle step at a time until they forget the true source of their blessings. They will begin to look more to themselves than to God.
Finally, their hearts will become proud and in a small voice they will say to themselves, My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.
That’s how you end up back in the wilderness.
Prosperity can be a greater challenge than adversity. In adversity, we clearly see our circumstances overrun our resources and call on God. In prosperity, it’s oh-so-easy to lose touch with this truth. It’s the rich fool building bigger barns, Nebuchadnezzar boasting about the kingdom he had built or the disciples at Laodicea thinking they were rich and self-sustaining.
When you live in the promised land, you praise the Lord for all He has given to you. You remember His words and find your life in living them out to the glory of the Father. That is how you handle prosperity.
But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:18)