“Prosperity is an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped” (Calvin Coolidge).
PROSPERITY IS WITHIN THE REACH OF MORE PEOPLE NOW THAN AT ANY TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Poverty has certainly not gone out of existence, but even so, prosperity is a more realistic dream than it used to be for millions of people.
Unfortunately, we don’t always view prosperity as we should. We grant it too high a position on our list of values and priorities, we use it for nothing more than selfish indulgence, and worst of all, we don’t give thanks to God as the source of all our blessings. In other words, when our character is tested by abundance, we often fail the test.
Many people assume that prosperity is easy, but it is not. Whatever challenges adversity may present, these are nothing compared to the difficulties of wealth. We often speak of the poor as “poverty-stricken,” but if we understood what the real dangers to human character are, we would probably be more concerned about those who have been “stricken with prosperity.” Keb’ Mo’, a great blues musician, spoke to this issue in his insightful song “Victims of Comfort.”
It would be a step in the right direction for us to remember the difference between outward and inward prosperity. Outwardly, prosperity is an economic condition. The more important prosperity, however, is a state of mind. It is experienced by those who possess contentment in their inner character, and without this kind of wealth, the outward kind is relatively worthless. But we can go even further: it is spiritual well-being (resulting from a right relationship with God) that outranks every other prosperity, whether inward or outward.
So if our goal is to become “prosperous,” we need to be careful — careful in how we define it and careful in how we pursue it. Some changes may be necessary: we may need to spend less effort on the discovery of “greener pastures” and more on the good stewardship of what is already ours. I agree with what Booker T. Washington said about it: “We shall prosper as we learn to do the common things of life in an uncommon way.” So as far as prosperity is concerned, it matters what’s in our wallet, but our way of thinking matters much more.
“A cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Book of Proverbs).