When the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you… then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deut 6:10-12
This is a marvellous promise of the blessing of God to the Children of Israel. Now here’s the surprise. Moses reminded the people by stating the following, “When this happens… Be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (6:12). To forget the Lord doesn’t mean to forget that He exists. It simply means that you no longer have Him in mind as in times past.
The message to us is clear. Say for example you’re blessed with a new or upgraded home; does God come to mind? Is the Lord honoured when a promotion or raise in your salary comes your way? These good gifts are to be welcomed and celebrated, but be careful, because every blessing of God carries within it the subtle test of success.
Derek Prince believes that the hardest test we’re likely to face – and the one we’re least likely to pass – is the “Test of Success”. Jose Navajo put it this way in his book, “Mondays with My Old Pastor”: “Something even more difficult than overcoming failure, is overcoming success.”
1. The Pride Test
“Then your heart will become proud…” (Deut 8:14)
If you forget the Lord, His blessing will lead you to pride. The time of your greatest spiritual danger may not be when you’re sick, but when you’re well. You’re more likely to forget the Lord. You’ll pray when you’re sick. The time of your greatest testing may not be when you lose a job, but when you find one. You’re more likely to grow cold in your walk with the Lord, not when the stock-market goes down, but when it goes up. Moses says, “When these good things happen to you, be very careful!” “Watch out! See the danger, because success carries with it the subtle temptation of spiritual pride” – Colin Smith
Carl F. H. Henry, the founder of Fuller Theological Seminary, was a prolific author and a man of extraordinary scholarship. He was also the first editor of Christianity Today. Don Carson conducted an interview with him and asked the following question, “Having achieved all this in your life, how do you stop it going to your head?” His response? “How can a man possibly be proud when he’s standing beside a cross?”
There are ultimately only two kinds of people; those who are standing on their own achievements and those who are standing beside the cross. What about you? Forgetting the Lord and His blessings will lead to a life of pride; but how can anyone be proud if he or she is standing beside a cross?
2. The Prosperity Test
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Deut 8:18
God has prospered Singapore as a nation. We enjoy the blessings of God in ways our parents never knew. We must remember that it’s the Lord who gives power to obtain wealth.
I believe God wants to prosper His people, however, there’s a warning of a false gospel that lures people away from “true riches”. It’s a gospel of deceit that places an emphasis on being rich. Such a pursuit brings “people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim 6:9). This is seen in the Church of Laodicea which characterises the last day church. This church saw themselves as rich and in need of nothing (Rev 3:16-17).
C. S. Lewis put it like this: “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he’s finding his place in it, while really it’s finding its place in him.” Singapore is called to model generosity; being blessed to be a blessing. Generosity is a vital key in passing the prosperity test. Robert Morris has an interesting teaching concerning the taking of a “Prosperity Test” each time we receive a pay check. He remarks that we live in a cursed world and until one tithes, the finances remain under a curse. God wants to redeem us from the curse.
3. The Popularity Test
This past week, Cornerstone conducted its Annual Leaders’ Summit. It was a time of refreshing and rejoicing for all that God had done. There’s been a continual growth in church attendance, finance and worldwide church plants. Pastor Yang reminded the 300 gathered leaders of the importance of guarding one’s private devotion time with the Lord. He further added that it’s easy to confuse success with victory. Success is a term from the business world as opposed to victory which denotes combat. The church is not involved in a business, but rather, a war for the purpose of establishing God’s Kingdom on earth.
We must never let the world entice us into accepting its standard of success. The desire for popularity is always dangerous. Christ was never obsessed with drawing crowds or having “likes” as seen in today’s social media. His message was the cross. Many were offended and turned away. It did not measure up to their definition of success (John 6:60). There were a handful who saw this message as the words of eternal life; the cross was the greatest victory that anyone has ever achieved. By taking up the cross, they passed the tests of success. What about us?