This week, we continued the “West Side Story” series where we are learning about Promised Land living – how we take and keep the territory. In this part, we discussed the trap that the Promised Land itself can become. You see, as we begin to see the fruit of blessing flow in our lives, it is very easy to fall into the trap of the “deceitfulness of wealth.” Jesus talked about in this in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:19. Jesus did not say to avoid wealth but the deceitfulness of wealth. When we have wealth, we can have a false sense of security or hope in our wealth. We can forget to rely on God. We can think that we are the source of our own blessing. When things fall apart, THEN we come back to God. Thankfully, He will never turn you away. But He desires that you not live your life on a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Problems come, but our lives should be generally on a slow, steady upswing as we grow in Him.
What is deceitfulness of wealth? This is when blessing starts flowing (boom here in 2003-4 is a great example), and we believe that this was blessing flowing (and probably were right). But then they decide they don’t need God and slowly drift away from the church. Then all of a sudden we find ourselves having trouble and then become angry with God (as I saw many people do in 2007-2008 when the crash came).
When Jesus makes this warning, it is to Jews who would read more into it than we might. Hebrew people were very familiar with the history of the Israelites and their journey into the Promised Land. The entire book of Judges shows this cycle the Israelites followed:
1) God would bless His people
2) they would eventually fall for the deceitfulness of that wealth and leave Him to serve other gods
3) they become enslaved by another nation and finally cry out to God
4) every time He answered with a Godly leader to lead them back to freedom.
5) Then the cycle would repeat.
This same cycle goes on in our lives. When we begin experiencing blessing, we can fall for the deception that we no longer need God. We stop praying, stop studying the Word, stop going to church, etc. The promises themselves become our trap – or the enemy uses them as a trap very successfully. You notice that God still never quits leading us to blessing. He still wants to bless you. But He also wants you to learn WHY He wants you blessed (come back next week for this one).
We looked at Deuteronomy 31:16 and following….We also looked at 32:13 and following. The blessing can become a counterfeit for trust in God. I have seen people truly blessed by God, and they thrive in ANY season. That is what God wants for us.
In the story of the prodigal son, we find a child who goes to his father to ask for his inheritance. He subsequently squanders that inheritance on worldly lifestyle. When he has lost everything, he gets a job feeding pigs and ends up finally wishing he could even have what the pigs eat. Jesus uses this image for a reason. Again, these were Jews He was speaking to. The imagery of feeding pigs is akin to working for the world (the unclean world). He then desires to eat what the unclean eat. Finally, he comes to his senses and goes back to his father – where he is received and given another inheritance. One thing we can get is that God’s grace and mercy receives us back when we blow it. But the other is that the father never wanted the son to have to go through all that pain to learn that lesson. He never wants us to fall for the deceitfulness of wealth.
The older brother in the story is akin to the law. The law judged the younger brother, but the father did not. You may not have seen this before, but when you read Luke 15:12 carefully, you find that the older brother got his inheritance as well (just a thought that changes the dynamic of the story a little).