READ: Psalm 77, Hosea 4-6, Luke 5, 1 Corinthians 12
THE DECREASE OF INCREASE
“The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me.” (Hosea 4:7)
There is something dangerous about wealth and knowledge. The smarter and richer a person is, the more he or she tends to trust self and personal resources. Jesus has no special priority for the economically poor; He came to save sinners, a category which encompasses all demographics. It is just that the poor are smart and simple enough to realize they need help. Poverty is a blessing in that it keeps us realistic about our needs. Wealth and power tend to hide our ongoing dependency on God. As one gets richer and smarter, one tends to get poorer and dumber. Poor judgment and deceived thinking are the well-traveled paths of those without physical need. C.S. Lewis pointed out that bodies and spirits are so well connected that they catch each other’s diseases. When the physical body is self-sufficient, it tends to make the spirit think itself self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency at the spirit level is sin, because it is rebellion against the truth that humanity needs God. The more capacity one has to care for oneself, the more one thinks she doesn’t need God’s help. Physical increase almost always leads to spiritual demise. This is the folly of humanity (increase of material makes man spiritually poor) and this is the beauty of need (poverty keeps man hungry for Jesus).
It is ironic that God bothers to bless, which He does. When a person is redeemed, he or she stops wasting life and resources, and there is a tangible and practical lift. As long as a person retains a Godward focus and a generous spirit, God continues to bless and provide, to channel His blessings through him or her. God delights to shower blessings on man and prosperity is a biblical word. God however defines prosperity holistically, and when He sees that riches of the world are diminishing the soul, He lovingly removes health and wealth that the soul might recover. God also sometimes proactively removes health and wealth for His greater glory among the nations. You don’t have to sin to be poor; God chose poverty for His beloved and sinless Son that humanity might have access to all the treasures of God. God sometimes asks His choicest servants to follow in the footsteps of lower class Jesus. Simon, James, and John were blue-collar workers and they “forsook all and followed Him” (Luke 5:11). Matthew was a white-collar tax collector, and “he left all and followed Him” (v. 28).
We who are rich in this world should be thankful and generous, and also warned. We should cast a dubious eye on our increase for it could well be our demise. It is the very provisions of God that can lead us away from Him. We who are rich in this world should cast an envious eye toward those who live simply. They have the treasure and satisfaction of focused daily dependence on Jesus.