Prosperity Or A Curse? :: by Grant Phillips

Let me say right up front that I like prosperity. Much has changed in the past 65 years (almost) that I’ve been around, and not all for the bad. For example, I would far rather have the bathroom inside the house than outside. How did we men ever survive the early days of TV, before the remote control? Was there actually a time before the microwave?

Air-conditioning at church was a hand held fan from the local funeral home. There was no air-conditioning at school, in your home or your family automobile.

A shot before painful dental work is much preferred. Many medical procedures are not as painful when compared to not many years ago. Pain medicine is good. Knock me out and just wake me up when it’s over.

The common, everyday family today has luxuries that weren’t even dreamed of when I was growing up. Any subject you might mention has been affected by prosperity. Nothing has been left untouched, but now the problem. Prosperity nearly always produces laziness.

The outdoors used to be a child’s domain, but now you can’t drag one outside to play. Work was once something expected by every member of the household, but now the ever widening posterior continues to expand. The Apostle Paul said to his protégé Timothy,

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1Timothy 5:8)

Many conveniences of our prosperity have made our work easier. Believe me I would rather ride the lawn mower than to push one with no motor. I’ve been there. Is that bad? No, not at all, but the easier our work load becomes, the lazier we get.

The greatest tragedy of this resulting prosperity driven laziness is our nonchalant attitude toward God, Christian and non-Christian alike. Have you ever noticed that when things are going badly in our life, we call out to God, even non-Christians? Send us prosperity though and we just don’t have time for God anymore.

Can there be any doubt that Jesus is speaking to our generation when He addresses the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22?

14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

In the early church people sat on the ground or on stone. Otherwise they stood. How would that fly in today’s modern church? Our floors are carpeted. Our pews are cushioned and soft. We even have a cushioned back to lean on. Few churches today still have the old wooden pews since they’re “not comfortable,” but how many will go to a ballgame and sit for hours on a cold metal or wooden bleacher with their knees in someone’s back?

Prosperity has also blessed us in the Bible study helps that are available for Christians today. Many Christians have taken advantage of these opportunities, but unfortunately most have not. It is so much easier to learn from the Bible today than when I was growing up, but apparently not easy enough for those spoiled by today’s luxuries.

Maybe it would be better if prosperity had not come our way in the first place, at least with reference to our interest in God. No … I still like prosperity. Maybe it would be better if we just showed our appreciation to God by thanking Him for it and using it for His glory. We could also use it to make ourselves more available to serve Him better. But if we think what we’re doing needs no improvement, is anything really going to change? No, nothing will change if we have a Laodicean spirit.

Prosperity has provided grandiose worship centers with attaching buildings for fellowship, sports and other activities. The interior of each is cushioned in luxury. Healthy church bank accounts supply its members with an orchestra and choir and the very best in sound equipment. Top dollar is paid for a pastor that has beautifully orated non-offensive spirit-lifting twenty minute messages that just make a tingle go up one’s leg. Sin is never addressed so as not to offend. The qualification for membership in this society of snobs is a healthy bank account. The poor can go to their own church.

Does this sound like a modern day Laodicean church to you? It does to me. Does that mean that all large plush churches are Laodicean minded? No, it does not, but there are plenty around, enough that the predominate attitude of today’s professing Christian is Laodicean. Does it mean that only large plush churches are of this spiritual attitude? Again, the answer is a resounding no. This “God’s lucky to have me” attitude is found in any size church, and it’s getting worse.

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus is knocking on the door of this “lost and don’t know it church” trying to get in. Three verses later in Revelation 4:1 He is calling His true Church out of the world. We call it the Rapture.

Prosperity is not bad, just as money is not bad. It is the love of money that is bad (1 Timothy 6:10) and it is the love of prosperity that is bad. So prosperity is not a curse unless we allow it to steer our love away from God. If we choose, we could use the prosperity that God has given us to proclaim Jesus Christ in even greater ways than our Christian ancestors, or we can love it more than God and wait for its condemnation.

Yes, Jesus is knocking on the door of the Laodicean church. In all likelihood you may be part of one. Do you hear it … the knocking that is? If you do, respond, for the next sound you won’t hear will be, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1) At this junction of your life, your life of ease will be over.

God knows how to get our attention. Those in the Laodicean church who have no time for God now because they are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, will quickly discover that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. He will strip away the luxury and security to steer their attention where it needs to be, while those who are truly His are enjoying His presence in Heaven.

Prosperity is not bad in and of itself, but if we allow it to make us “fat and lazy”, not just in body but also in mind, we are headed for doom. Will you use it as an instrument to help you serve the Lord Jesus better, or will it be your curse?


Grant Phillips