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The Subtle Test of Success

March 5, 2019

“The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…and you will lack nothing.” Deuteronomy 8:7, 9

When God brought his people Israel out of slavery in Egypt, he made a covenant with the people: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” And he provided for them for 40 years in the wilderness.

After the 40 years, a new generation was ready to enter the land of Canaan. They were born in the desert. They saw miracles every day as God provided manna. They had more faith than their parents.

The book of Deuteronomy records Moses’ last words to the people: “God is going to give you the land. Everything that he has promised will be yours (8:7-9). And when that happens, watch your soul (8:11-17)!

In contemporary language, it might sound something like this: “When you get used to eating out with your family, and you have that big house with two cars in the garage, and you finally land that job you’ve always wanted, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord.”

When God gives you what you always wanted, your faith will be tested. Success is a far more subtle test of faith than suffering. This is counter-intuitive. We assume that pain and poverty are dangerous to faith, but Moses is making it clear that pleasure and prosperity pose greater threats.

Rejoice in all God’s good gifts, but remember—your spiritual health is more in danger on the day you are offered a big promotion than it is on the day you are fired. Prosperity often breeds a confidence in us that makes us feel that we need God less.

What is that thing you’ve been wanting—achievement, relationship, job, money, or possession—that if you got it, could become a subtle test of your faith?

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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