Amos / chapter 6 (read the chapter)
Oh, the “gospel of prosperity” wars. I’m sure you’ve heard the complaints on both sides. Some preachers proclaim that God is interested in giving us lots of wealth and that the more we “tap into” His blessings, the more prosperous we will become. Other preachers proclaim that wealth is evil and that the Bible warns us to stay away from it (thus God would never bless His faithful followers with financial prosperity).
Actually, neither position is what I would consider a “balanced” view of what Scripture says about God and wealth. In some cases, followers of God enjoyed massive amounts of financial prosperity—Abraham, Isaac, and Job, to name a few. In other cases, followers of God were dirt-poor—Elijah, John the Baptist, and Job, to name a few.
There is no all-or-nothing conclusion to be had from the Bible when it comes to the enjoyment of financial prosperity as a follower of God. But one thing we can say for sure is that God takes our comfort seriously. Very seriously.
In Amos 6, for instance, God was taking serious issue with the comforts of Israel: “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” (vs 1, 3-6)
Financial prosperity or not, what this reminds me is that comfort is not God’s highest goal for me. That is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with comfort, but if comfort is keeping me from godliness—which is God’s highest goal for me—then comfort is going to have to go!
Each one of us is an individual, and that means that each one of us has a different relationship with God. For some people, material comforts might be a barrier to a relationship with God. For others, poverty might be the barrier. For still others, their financial situation might have no bearing on their openness to God. They may be susceptible to the idols of pride or lust or envy.
But whatever tends to come between us and God, God is not willing to compete with it! He will do everything in His power to separate us from that idol, and either we will finally be separated from it or from Him. The choice is ours.
The comfort God is really seeking for us is our ultimate comfort—the comfort of a life lived in perfect harmony with Him, the comfort that comes from godliness. If any other “comfort” is standing in the way of that, God will do everything in His power to weed it out!