One of the early church fathers named Gregory the Great once wrote in a commentary on the book of Job that “holy people are more fearful of prosperity in this world than of adversity.” That line struck me. As a believer in Jesus we are incorporated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What is true of Jesus is true of us by His grace and faithfulness to us, and in return our response of faith and allegiance. As Americans (at least white Americans) we have a story as well. We tend to tell a story of progress and prosperity. It’s a story I’m proud to be part of, but it is also a story that sometimes rubs against our Gospel story. There is a tension that begs the question what really is the good life?
So what do we do as Americans who have been prosperous, who have received untold blessings from the Lord? Well, when we search the scriptures we come to the Proverbs which speaks much of wealth, blessing, and prosperity. Proverbs though contrasts wealth, blessing, and prosperity with Wisdom. For instance, Proverbs 3:13-15 states, “blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” When the question of the good life is taken up in the Wisdom writings of the Old Testament, the answer to the good life is Wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is of course the fear of the Lord. Where does Wisdom come from? Wisdom comes from the TORAH, the law of the Lord. If you follow TORAH, the natural result is a happy/blessed life.
What does Jesus say about TORAH? Did Jesus do away with it? No, Jesus says that He came to fulfill TORAH during the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5. So how do we gain wisdom on what to do with our blessing and prosperity? We seek Jesus. We grab hold onto Jesus who has already grabbed a hold of us. Jesus did not keep His blessing to Himself, but rather poured Himself out for the sake of others. We are called to do the same with our blessing. It is out of the overflow of Jesus’ blessing that we begin to bless others. It is there we will find the good/blessed life.
I so much appreciate your Blog, Ray. Please keep putting into it all these wonderful, thought provoking, posts you are making. Bill Rudolph