Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Peril of Prosperity

I'm guilty of shredding magazines. 

If I see something in Country Living, Drovers or Real Simple that I like, I simply tear the page or article out. I have a file at home of future home ideas, recipes, agriculture stories or even motivational quotes. I'll admit I haven't looked at the what I've stored in the file for at least a year; I simply rip, then place the paper in the folder. Who has time to look through that kind of stuff? I'm too busy on Pinterest. 

But there is one thing that I read some time ago that I look at daily. 

It came out of one of those monthly devotional books that you find at the back of the church as you're exiting. My friend Kathy was always kind enough to buy one for me each month and I'd take it back to college. On Thursday, November 24, 2005 the devotion struck me more so than usual. It hit me hard enough that I ripped the page out and taped it to the screen of my forty-pound college laptop. Sadly, I needed to see that message daily. 

When I moved to Washington, DC this devotion was taped to my desktop screen that sat high above the bustling sounds of Pennsylvania Avenue. 

When I went to work at an animal health company this page was once again removed and placed directly on the frame of my desktop screen. 

Just last week I officially moved into my new office and it was a sigh of relief and familiarity to pull this dear old reminder out and display it next to my computer screen. Although now I've taped it to an old glass jar that holds my pens; it wouldn't last a single day taped to my ever-so-mobile laptop. Just having that tattered old page in my office made the new place complete. 

It's a devotion that has no doubt followed me around - from college to real world, elated hours and ones full of disappointment, trying days and great ones. 

- The Peril of Prosperity - 

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need, or I shall be full, and deny you and say, "Who is this Lord?" or I shall be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. - Proverbs 30:8-9

During a recent conversation, a Christian friend told me that his uncle had died and left him a substantial amount of money. Rather than acting elated over this, my friend exhibited a restrained, sober attitude. I'll never forget what he said next: 

"This inheritance is the greatest test of faith I've ever experienced."

Most people equate a "test of faith" with a  problem: a severe illness, a financial setback, a nagging temptation, an interpersonal conflict. But my friend understands a profound principle of scripture: prosperity poses a stiff test of faith. When we're healthy, earning promotions at work, enjoying our children, or even flourishing in our service for Christ we are prone to forget God or pay less attention to God. When we're successful, pride tends to work its way into our hearts. 

Success isn't wrong. It may even be a direct answer to prayer, a gracious gift from God. Yet if we aren't vigilant about giving God the credit and using our blessings for the good of others, prosperity can become a snare. 

Thought for the day: Prosperity is an opportunity to serve God and others. 

- Terry Powell, South Carolina

I'm fortunate that good things, people and days come my way far more often than negative ones. And while "prosperous" isn't the word I'd use to describe my simple life, it's certainly been a great one. I suppose that is why I need this worn and faded piece of paper! I look at this devotion daily, whether I read a single word of it or not. Silently, it serves as a constant reminder, one that I know I shouldn't require, to talk to God daily - whether I'm crying for help or giving great thanks. 


  1. Love this, Jean!!! What a beautiful devotional and reminder that every day is filled with blessings from God! Thank you for sharing :) Amanda J.

  2. I'm so thankful I could touch your life with words from God.

  3. Isn't it comforting to know that a simple, yet powerful, one-page devotion can make your new office feel complete to you? I also liked learning that you file articles, ideas, etc. In Mitch Albom's book "Have a Little Faith," the rabbi also keeps files of articles that interest him. While reading the book I thought about all of the articles and ideas I've filed over the years and considered going through them again to see what I would save and what I would purge. As we continue on our journey with God our perspective changes...