August 3, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In a web search, I came across the Legatum Prosperity Index, a unique method to measure the prosperity level of 142 countries around the world, covering 96% of the total world population, and 99% of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product – The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, usually calculated on an annual basis.) According to the Legantum definition, prosperity includes not just economic factors, but also entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital. Prosperity is then defined as a unique combination of wealth and well-being.
Of the 142 countries included in this index, the United States comes in at number ten! (Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Finland, and The Netherlands rank one through nine in that order). Wherever we are ranked in the United States of America, we are one of the most blessed societies in the history of the world!
And herein lies the problem for the Church in America – and the western world. We have experienced Dangerous Blessing! What do I mean? In Revelation 3:14 through 22, the glorified Lord dictated a letter to the church of Laodicea – one of the seven churches in Asia Minor to which His letters were sent (see Revelation chapters 2 and 3). Jesus focused on the problem of Laodicea’s Dangerous Blessings in verses 15 through 17:
I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you
were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold
nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich,
have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” — and do not know
that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked….
The blessings God had allowed the Laodiceans to experience had blinded the church members in that city to their real need! After all, why do you need the Lord God when you think you have everything? They had everything, alright – everything except that which really counted!
It reminds me of parable Jesus spoke in Luke 12:16 through 21. A wealthy farmer’s land produced abundant crops one year – so much so that he complained, “…I have no room to store my crops…” (verse 17). His solution? Verses 18 and 19:
I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there I will store all my
crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, You have many
goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”
But, according to the story, he was going to die that night and stand before God! “ You fool!” God told him, “…then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:20). The parable does not say whether the rich farmer listened to the warning or not. But Jesus gave a clear admonition to the Laodicean believers in Revelation 3:18:
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;
and white garments, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your
nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that
you may see.
And then the Lord told why He was warning them in verse 19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.”
• Repent ! The idea within this word is both change your mind about what you have been doing, and change the direction in which you have been going! Riches can be deceiving, Paul said in I Timothy 6:9 and 10. And the apostle was just echoing what Jesus had taught in Matthew 6:24:
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other,
or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God
and mammon [money and the things money can buy].”
So, Christian, stop saying to yourself – stop acting as if, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing!” Because if that is your attitude, before God, “…you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked !”
• Be zealous! Be enthused over the things of God revealed through the Word and available in Jesus Christ! He has true riches available for God’s children…
▸ “…gold refined in the fire….” This is not the literal gold that is held to be so valuable on earth. Whatever this heavenly gold is, it is eternal, and the value will last – and only increase – throughout eternity!
▸ “…white garments….” We are clothed with “fithy rags” according to Isaiah 64:6 – clothing so stained with the dirtiness of sin, it is repugnant to the holy God! But when we come to Jesus, and with open hearts receive Him as our Savior, He strips us of our filthy rags, and clothes us with His own pure righteousness! (See Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5; II Corinthians 5:21).
▸ “ …eye salve, that you may see.” We are in a sorry state before we allow the Lord Jesus to do His saving and healing work in our lives! It says in II Corinthians (KJV), “…the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” But just as Jesus healed the two blind men in Matthew 20:29 through 34, He can touch our eyes and make us see!
So do not succumb to Dangerous Blessing! Thank God for the blessings He bestows upon you, and enjoy them! But do not think the foundation of your life consists of earthly blessings! Instead focus first and foremost on the One who bestows those blessings!