Trusting the Gospel in Times of Prosperity

“ many ways, prosperity actually highlights my need for Christ even more.”

In recent months, I have experienced the curious adventure of dreams coming true. In my growing passion to give voice to the inner heart experiences of nurses, I’ve been granted opportunities for publication, and most recently, the chance to do a TEDx Talk on nursing. While these are all tremendous blessings for which I am incredibly grateful, it is all unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Surprisingly, what is so new is the struggle to trust the Gospel in this kind of prosperity.

I’ve gone through my share of significant trials, and as a nurse, I bear witness to suffering on a regular basis. While these hardships have certainly challenged my faith, there is something inherent to suffering that causes my soul to feel its frailty and cry out to the Lord for mercy and help. With prosperity, however, my soul struggles with very different issues. Yet my need for the Gospel is unchanged. And in many ways, prosperity actually highlights my need for Christ even more.

The first temptation of prosperity I find myself battling is mistaking God’s gifts, and the fruit of faithfulness, for personal accomplishment outside of the grace of God. First Corinthians 4:7 nails the truth about prosperity: “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 tells us that He is Lord and giver of all things big and small; my role is to be diligent, faithful, and humble. This is for His joy, which He then generously invites me to share.

“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” -Matthew 25:20-21

I need to trust the Gospel because of my flesh’s inclination to glory in personal achievement. The Gospel has done for me what I’m tempted to think I can do for myself; it has made me an heir of salvation and a recipient of gifts intended to be for His everlasting glory.

The second temptation of prosperity is to look to the gift (which is finite and so conditional - I’m already bracing myself for the Internet trolls on YouTube!) rather than the Gospel for a sense of identity and a meaningful life. What I’m learning quickly through my current experience is that a feeling of prosperity and “fame” can come and go as quickly as reading one comment of praise followed by two critical comments. It feeds a fleshly ego that can be more needy one day versus another, sometimes just depending on how much sleep I got the night before. An unstable source feeding my unstable flesh is a bad mix. This makes the Gospel all the more Good News. I’m no longer standing on sinking sand for my security; I’m rooted in a foundation of love that does not wane and does not depend on my works. While I still make it my aim to put strong effort into what lies before me, I am free from the need to pursue its success for my sense of identity. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24)

The third temptation of prosperity is to allow it to feed my flesh’s easy slide from the sin of pride into even more sin. On my days at home, sweeping up PlayDoh for the umpteenth time, I have caught myself thinking, ‘I’m going to be a TEDx Talk speaker; why am I sweeping the floor?’ Now that is not just pride, but an additional layer of hesitation to joyfully serve my children well. How ironic that part of my Talk is about the value of serving others. My soul needs to remember what Jesus told His disciples in John 13:14-17:

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Oh how my soul needs the Gospel! The King of kings humbled Himself not only to wash my feet, but to suffer and die for my sinful soul so that I might joyfully serve others in His name. I need to trust the Gospel so that I am free to live a life worthy of the truest and highest calling I’ve received - to honor Christ and become more like Him. In this calling, I can embrace any “elevated” status as a powerful opportunity to simply serve more people in new ways, ultimately pointing to Him as our glorious Servant King.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’”
-1 Cor. 1:27, 29-31

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