Confessions of a Church: Wealth and Idols

The Psalm writer wrote:  Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received.   This is the word of God.  It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.   
 
Deuteronomy 8:11-20 11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers 
did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
 
This is the word of the Lord. 
 
Material, physical, and temporal blessings can become a snare to the people of God, things like:
 
Comfort
Ease
Plenty
Rest from enemies 
An established household 
Fruitfulness 
Skill
Health 
Wealth 
Possessions 
 
We are not gnostic, so we do not believe that these things in and of themselves are inherently wicked. Rather, what leads to these things becoming stumbling blocks for God's people is the pride which quickly surfaces when these blessings abound. Israel in the OT was brought low because of their pride. Pride, and their belief that the blessings they enjoyed were gained by their own strength and their own wisdom, ultimately led to the Northern tribes being carried off into Assyria,  and the Southern tribes into Babylon. God saved His remnant, so it is not as if the promises of God were nullified or shown to be untrue, but rather, His promises have been made more sure.
Israel's subjugation in foreign lands is a testament to the truthfulness of God's promises.
Every branch which does not bear good fruit is broken off the vine and cast into the fire, and the story which unfolds in the Old Testament shows us that God's promises regarding disobedience to His commandments come true.
 
The fact that we forget God because of earthly blessings seems to be a perpetual danger for the people of God in every age, and like Israel of old, we must repent lest we likewise perish.
How quickly a little success at work leads to pride in our own wisdom and intellect?
 
 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names, Who acts with insolent pride.— Proverbs 21:24
 
Watch the speed in which a little "well deserved" rest from your labors leads to idle activities, sloth, and an insatiable desire for leisure.
 
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.— Proverbs 8:13
 
Are you someone skilled in your trade? Do you have a gifting which naturally lifts you up above those who do not? Be careful dear friend lest you are overcome with pride.
 
 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
— Proverbs 29:23
 
When all your material and physical needs are met, observe with fear and trembling how those material blessings soon become the idol at whose feet you worship, forgetting the blessings of God. Rather than being thankful to God for the blessings, and in turn using them for His glory, we become slaves to these idols: slaves to leisure, slaves to wealth, slaves to comfort, and slaves to the devil. Observe these words from Matthew 4: 8,9- Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
 
There are a myriad of ways in which we forget the Lord our God, but none lead us so quickly astray as the pride which flows from times of plenty: ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’
 
In his commentary Matthew Henry states:
He giveth thee power to get wealth, not so much to gratify thee, and make thee easy, as that he may establish his covenant. All God's gifts are in pursuance of his promises.
 
God's blessings in the life of a believer serve as further evidence that God's promises are true, that His will to fulfill the Covenant He made with His people is resolute and unbreakable. 
Why not respond with worship, praise, and thanksgiving, rather than pride?
 
Instead of viewing the physical blessing as the end all, be all, why not instead have a Christian view of blessing? Rather than hoarding our gifts, material wealth, and resources, saying "mine, all mine!" holding them up as testaments to our strength and wisdom: why not use them instead for the glory of God?
 
A humble heart, a thankful attitude, and being a cheerful giver, will be a blessing to your fellow brothers and sisters, will show the world whose disciples we are, and will glorify God.
 
There are people in our congregation who struggle with sin: use the gift of breath in your lungs to call them to repentance. 
 
There are members of this Church who are emotionally frail, nearly broken: use the two arms the Lord has blessed you with to hold them.
 
There are expectant mothers, people with physical ailments, people who are repenting of destructive lifestyles, people who feel trapped in their situations, people who are uncertain of the path they ought to be on, people who waste God's blessings, people who could use a meal, people who need help around the house, people who long for Christian fellowship, people who have no family (or whose family has rejected them because of Christ), people who feel trapped in the day to day grind, people who are scared about the future and tortured by their past.
 
Yet you want to rest easy in your stuff, building up your little dunghill of a kingdom, eyes bulging with fatness (Psalm 73:7).
 
Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
If you are able, please kneel as we confess our sins to God Almighty. 
 
O THOU TERRIBLE MEEK,
 
Let not pride swell our hearts.
      Our nature is the mire beneath our feet,
      the dust to which we shall return.
In body we surpass not the meanest reptile;
Whatever difference of form and intellect is ours
  is a free grant of thy goodness;
Every faculty of mind and body is thy
  undeserved gift.
Low as we are as creatures, we are lower as sinners;
We have trampled thy law times without number;
Sin’s deformity is stamped upon us,
  darkens our brow, touches us with corruption:
How can we flaunt ourselves proudly?
Lowest abasement is our due place,
  for we are less than nothing before thee.
Help us to see ourselves in thy sight,
  then pride must wither, decay, die, perish.
Humble our hearts before thee,
  and replenish it with thy choicest gifts.
As water rests not on barren hill summits,
  but flows down to fertilize lowest vales,
So make us the lowest of the lowly,
  that our spiritual riches may exceedingly abound.
When we leave duties undone,
  may condemning thought strip us of pride,
  deepen in us devotion to thy service,
  and quicken us to more watchful care.
When we are tempted to think highly of ourselves,
  grant us to see the wily power of our spiritual
    enemy;
Help us to stand with wary eye on the watch-tower
    of faith,
  and to cling with determined grasp to our
    humble Lord;
If we fall let us hide ourselves in the Redeemer’s
    righteousness,
  and when we escape, may we ascribe all deliverance
    to thy grace.
Keep us humble, meek, lowly.
In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.
 
(Prayer adapted from the Valley of Vision prayer titled "Pride")
Please stand and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:  
 
1 John 1:6-9 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts! 
(From the 03/13/2022 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)

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