Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 8:11-14 (NIV)
After forty years, the generation who had been slaves in Egypt died, and now a new generation was preparing to enter the Promised Land. They were born in the desert and saw miracles every day as God provided manna and quail. They had more faith than their parents. Standing on the verge of Canaan, they were ready to lay down their lives so God’s promise would be fulfilled.
In Moses’ final words to them, he issued an unexpected warning: their radical faith would soon be tested. When God gives what you’ve always wanted, your faith will be tested.
What does success look like for you? Good grades? A relationship? A family? A position? Money? Whatever it is, success is a far more subtle test of faith than suffering. This is counterintuitive. We assume pain and poverty are dangerous to faith, but Moses makes it clear that pleasure and prosperity pose much greater threats.
Your spiritual health is likely in more danger on the day you are offered a big promotion than on the day you are fired. Wise parents will be as concerned for their children’s spiritual health when they succeed as when they fail.
Pain brings its own tests, but it often throws us back on God. Prosperity breeds a confidence in ourselves that makes us feel we need God less. We feel we are making our way in the world, as C.S. Lewis cautioned, when actually the world is making its way in us.
Why should we beware of success? Where have you found this to be true?