How to Avoid Prosperity’s Pitfalls?

Mission Advancement October 22, 2019

by Rev. Curt Seefeldt

An Old Testament prophet, Amos, mentions two pitfalls:

Amos wrote this 750 years before the birth of Jesus: “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria.” (Amos 6:1)

In this lifetime, Zion and Mount Samaria were the capital cities of two Jewish nations. Zion (Jerusalem) was the seat of government for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and Mount Samaria was the home base for the king of the 10 northern tribes. As power centers for the special nations to whom God had given the promise of the coming Messiah, these cities should have been the centers of godly living. However, in Amos’ day, they had a reputation as “sin cities,” just high-profile gathering spots for the rich and famous to host lavish parties of self-indulgence.

Amos had pointed out the words for them. He warned the kings and their rich, powerful friends about complacency. He saw they were spending far too much of their energy and money on their own entertainment at the expense of the welfare of the people entrusted to their care.

Amos also put them on notice: “Your trust in your own prosperity is misplaced.” Just because life was good for them and their close circle of friends, this was not a guarantee that the good times would last. Of greatest concern to Amos, the self-indulgent lifestyles of the cities’ prominent citizens were leading them to neglect worship of the true God and getting others to follow suit.

Prosperity has the same pitfalls for us today. We in the United States in 2019 are living in one of the most prosperous nations the world has ever seen during one of the world’s most prosperous eras. If you and I have a net worth of $94,000, we are richer than 90% of the world’s population. How, then, do we avoid the pitfalls that Amos identifies?

The answer is to ask another question: What does God expect you and me to do with our prosperity? Let’s listen to what he says through his servant, St. Paul:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.’

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. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”(1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19)

While prosperity has its pitfalls, it also gives us amazing opportunities by allowing us to support the work that builds the kingdom of God through his churches and ministries!

And here is more good news! When we use prosperity according to God’s instructions, we not only bring blessing to many souls but we also are far less likely to be trapped by prosperity’s pitfalls.

Prayer: Dear Savior, I thank you for calling me to your kingdom through the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life promised by Jesus. My prayer today is to activate me! Bless my efforts to be “rich in good deeds” as I use the prosperity you have given to me to be a blessing, supporting the work that brings Jesus to the people of the world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.