Can you handle prosperity?
Can you handle prosperity? Luke 12:16-20 tells of a man that could not handle prosperity. Jesus gives this parable illustrating this statement in verse 15, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” The parable goes on to show the flawed thought process of this man after a great harvest. Prosperity can be defined as success or gain in any area of life. I’ve experienced prosperity and you have too; however, it takes great discipline to handle life when things are going well. Allow me to point out some mistakes this man made in this brief moment of success in his life.
- He claimed all the credit for the harvest. He uses the pronoun “I” six times in three verses. He never acknowledged God as the source of his successful harvest. Success, especially at an early age, can be completely overwhelming. It can make us forget about the One who gives the harvest. God reminds in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Since God gives the harvest, God deserves the credit. Everything we have and everything we have ever accomplished is all because of God. He deserves all glory for our lives.
- His wealth became his goal. His fruits, goods and barn became his main focus in life. He was already rich before this great harvest; yet, he didn’t consider what God would have him to do with the money from this latest harvest. I’ve watched good people become totally absorbed with a sudden “blessing” and miss the reason for the blessing. Money and things are simply tools—not the goal. Joy, peace, contentment and lasting satisfaction is the goal; but these have never been found when our focus is on money, things, or our position in life.
- He stopped working. Jesus tells us his thought process in verse 19, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” The blessing of the harvest caused him to stop working. A good rule of thumb for life is we stop at the goal, not a blessing. The goal should be to serve God for a lifetime. The goal should not be to gain wealth here on earth, but rather be “rich toward God.” Blessings are not meant to stop us from working, but rather aid us in the purpose of our work. God’s plan is that we would be “faithful unto death.”
- He sent nothing ahead. Using this man as an example, God tells us in verse 33, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” God wants us to send our treasure ahead of us to heaven, which is exactly the opposite of what this man did. We can’t take anything with us when we die, but we can send it ahead while we are on earth. Everything we do for the cause of Christ will be rewarded in heaven. Tithes, offerings, special love gifts and donations, when given through the local, New Testament church, are treasures we’ll see again someday. I cannot speak to the specific need or function of our treasure in heaven, but if God wants us to send it ahead, there is no doubt a great need for it.
God called this man a “fool.” That is pretty harsh language from our Lord, but prosperity can make the smartest and brightest of people do very foolish things. Let us determine not to lose our eternal vision over temporal blessings and send our treasure ahead while we still have time here on earth.