Read Deuteronomy 8:10-18
10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 15 Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! 16 He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ 18 Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath. (NLT)
Many centuries ago, the Christian church was growing fat and lazy. It enjoyed worldly power and the patronage of influential people. So its spiritual power declined. This was the background to the founding of the monastic movement. Groups like the Franciscans and Benedictines established communities which sought to get back to the simplicity and devoutness of the earliest Christianity.
In time, however, these monastic movements grew rich and powerful and so lost their spiritual power. They became part of the problem rather than the solution. Some more contemporary Christian groups and movements and churches suffer the same fate. Their ‘success’ leads them to failure. The passion dies, the cutting edge is blunted. Prosperity and power have seduced them. Prosperity makes them comfortable and self-satisfied. Power causes them to lose sight of the need of the Holy Spirit.
It was certainly something envisaged in the early days of the people of God. The Hebrews who entered the promised land were warned not to forget the source of their help and their power. They had faced great dangers in the wilderness when things were against them. They would face more great dangers when circumstances were favourable.
We rightly value comfort and prosperity. But they bear within themselves the dangers of complacency and self-sufficiency.