THE DANGERS OF PROSPERITY
Text: Deuteronomy 8
It is a common practice among the Chinese to wish one another prosperity during the Chinese New Year. By divine permission and provision, Singapore is indeed a prosperous nation. Most of us have no lack of material goods, and many hope for this prosperity to abound in the new year. Nevertheless, as we enjoy this material prosperity granted to us by God, let us as Christians be aware of the pitfalls that come with it.
The passage today is Moses’ warning for the children of Israel before they begin the conquest of the Land of Promise. While they were in the wilderness, the children of Israel lived in the harsh conditions of the desert. They ate manna daily and drank water which flowed from the rock. They had no houses, neither did they own any fields to plant crops. They lived as nomads, moving from place to place as directed by God via a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.
However, the living conditions of the children of Israel were about to change. Once they crossed the river Jordan, they would discover a land that is so distinctly different from the wilderness in which they had wandered for forty years. “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)
As the children of Israel began building their houses, and multiplying their fields and flocks, there is every danger that their new-found prosperity would cause their heads to swell and forget the Lord. Instead of thanking the Lord for His goodness, they might soon think that their wealth came from their own might and wisdom. Such conceit would soon lead them to forsake the Lord and His commandments, and would make Israel no different from all the other nations that were around them.
Tragically, the admonitions of Moses went unheeded by the generations after Joshua. The period of Judges ushered in a time of gross immorality when everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). The kingdom age which followed the period of Judges was not any better. Finally, the Lord had little choice but to chastise Israel by exiling them from their land. How sad!
What about us in Singapore? In these 52 years, we have transited from third-world to first-world. Material-wise, we are much better than many countries in the world.
Thus we ought to heed the grave warning of the Scriptures – “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day. . . But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:11, 18) Do not forget that the Lord is the divine paymaster, and not men!
Dear brethren, let us resolve not to be trapped by the dangers of prosperity this new year, but to remember the Lord in all our ways. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Have a blessed new year!
BE CAREFUL OF CHILDREN CARTOONS!
Children are easily fascinated by cartoons. Some are specially made to entertain children, and may seem cute and innocent. Therein lies the danger because we are often lulled in a false sense of security concerning these films when they may contain anti-biblical teaching which is harmful to young minds.
One example is the subtle promotion of evolution. Films like “Ice Age” are made around such themes. Another such film is the film “The Good Dinosaur” (Disney, 2015) where the human protagonist, Spot, is pictured as walking on all fours. Before we know it, impressionable children are taken in by the subliminal messaging in the film and may grow up believing in an error. Beware!
Of course, there may be times when we purchased a film for our children’s viewing, only to realise later that it contains themes that are unsuitable for children. When this happens, it is our duty to open the Scriptures and teach the children why certain things in the film are incorrect. Lovingly explain to them that all things in life must be evaluated by God’s Perfect Word. The Bible will never be wrong!
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” These include the films that we show to our children. Be vigilant! May the Lord protect our young ones from the influence of ungodly and worldly philosophies.
Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew