The Affliction of Success (Amos 6:4-6)

Amos 6:4-6 – Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

Proverbs 30:8-9

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

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Amos here describes a people who are filthy rich. They have beds of ivory, all they can eat and drink, and all the pleasure they could want. According to many in our world, these are the blessed ones. But Amos pronounces woe upon them, because they are under God’s judgment. Why? Not for having wealth, but because they have their wealth while not caring about the downfall of the nation or the glory of God. They focused on themselves and their pleasures, and cared nothing for the poor and needy around them. They looked to their entertainment, and cared nothing for the worship of God. They built up their own houses, and failed to call for the destruction of the places of idol worship in their land.

Little is more blinding in our world than success and ease. If you read the accounts of Christians in foreign lands, you will be amazed at the courage and self-sacrifice of such people. Why is it, then, that many in our own cultures show no sign of that same courage, passion, and fire for God and his glory? Perhaps the reason we are so devastatingly complacent is the fact that we have been lulled to sleep by our comforts. Our great scourge is not persecution, but prosperity. Satan’s great trick for us is not to afflict us as he did Job with sickness and loss. Instead, he has come up with a much more clever scheme, giving us all we could ever want so we then turn and no longer care about or think we need God.

Are you successful? Good. Are your needs adequately met? Fine. But be careful. Is your success causing you to forget that you still need God every day? Are your possessions and little pleasures worth so much to you that you will not risk losing them in order to help out a needy person? Do the things that you own actually own you? Would you give up your property to preach the gospel in a foreign land? What kind of hold do your possessions have over you? What kind of grip do your pleasures have on your heart?

Today, ask God to help you to let go of an earthly model of success, to live for him instead of worldly pleasures, and to value his kingdom and his glory above all. Turn your heart away from the little comforts and petty pleasures that would take your heart captive, and lead you to destruction. See the pleasures and the toys of this life as simply things, nothing more and nothing less. They are creation, not the Creator. Follow hard after the Creator, and he will set in proper perspective all that he has made that is good and enjoyable.

Dear Lord, you are all that I want. No pleasure, no possession is worthy of my attention above you. I pray that you will give me enough that I might live for your glory, neither dishonoring you by stealing nor forgetting you in my comfort. Let me view all possessions and comforts as tools that I might use for your glory, and let me give all my life to you.