Riches & Honours: The Subtle Snare of Worldly Prosperity

2 Chronicles 18:1,2
       Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab…And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead.

HENRY VENN (1724-1797): In every situation there is some peculiar snare, to which we are exposed; and all the art and malice of the wicked one is used to take us in that snare.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The saints’ spots are mostly got in peace, plenty, and prosperity.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): Worldly prosperity has ever been found an unfavourable soil for the growth of piety. It blinds the mind to spiritual and eternal things, dries up the spirit of prayer, fosters pride and ambition, furnishes the appropriate food to covetousness, and leads to a sinful conformity to the spirit, maxims, and fashions of the world.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Prosperity lulls the soul, and I fear Christians are spoiled by it.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): How fully was this proved in the case of Jehoshaphat! He became the friend and companion of Ahab, who hated Micaiah, the servant of God; and as a consequence, although he did not himself positively persecute the righteous witness, yet he did what was bad; for he sat beside Ahab, and beheld the Lord’s prophet first struck, and then committed to prison, simply because he would not tell a lie to please a wicked king, and harmonize with four hundred wicked prophets…And [at Ramoth-gilead] Jehoshaphat narrowly escaped with his life, having made a total shipwreck of his testimony.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We have seen many professed Christians make shipwreck, in some few instances it has been attributable to overwhelming sorrow, but in ten cases to the one it has been attributable to prosperity…It is hard to carry a full cup without a spill.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Ephraim and Manasseh were brethren, and so are plenty and forgetfulness—the signification of their names. Prosperity is no friend to the memory; therefore we are cautioned so much to beware when we are full, lest then we forget God, Proverbs 30:9.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We know how greatly even a moderate share of wealth hinders many from raising their heads towards heaven…And we know how liable men are to be ensnared by the blandishments of prosperous and smiling fortune.

WILLIAM GURNALL: O how hard is it to be pleased with it and not be ensnared by it! “Wine,” Solomon saith, “is a mocker;” it soon puts him that is too bold with it to shame. Prosperity doth the same. A little of it makes us drunk, and…this hath proved often an hour of temptation to the best of men. You shall find in Scripture the saints have got their saddest falls on the evenest ground. Noah, who had seen the whole world drowned in water, no sooner almost was he come safe to shore but himself is drowned in wine. David’s heart was fixed in the wilderness; but his wanton eye rolled and wandered when upon the terrace of his palace. Health, honour, riches, and pleasures, with the rest of the world’s enjoyments, they are like luscious wine. We cannot drink little of them, they are so sweet to our carnal palate; and we cannot bear much of them, because they are strong and heady, fuming up in pride and carnal confidence.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): To see a man humble under prosperity is one the greatest rarities in the world.

C. H. SPURGEON: You have need to pray to God, not only to help you in your troubles, but to help you in your blessings. George Whitefield once had a petition to put up for a young man who had—stop, you will think it was for a young man who had lost his father or his property. No!—“The prayers of the congregation are that he has need of much grace to keep him humble in the midst of riches.”

WILLIAM GURNALL: Pray in prosperity, that thou mayst not be ensnared by thy prosperity.

C. H. SPURGEON: That is the kind of prayer that ought to be put up; for prosperity is a hard thing to bear…I am never afraid for my brethren who have many troubles, but I often tremble for those whose career is prosperous―In my prosperity, I said I shall never be moved, Psalm 30:6. Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way. Continued worldly prosperity is fiery trial.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: Some few have been enabled to pass through this ordeal without serious injury, and have come forth like the three children from Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, without the smell of fire on their garments; but this could not have been unless the Son of Man had been with them. Such persons use all their health, influence, and wealth in promoting the kingdom of Christ; but generally, God in mercy refuses to give worldly prosperity to His children. He has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith; that is, He has commonly chosen poverty as the safest condition for His children.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: I generally observe that whom the Lord loves, for the most part He keeps from preferment.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): The glory of the world is that which God doth mostly give to those that are not His―not many rich, not many mighty, not many noble are called.

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): Few worldly-wealthy are called; for it is just as impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, as for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore the apostle says, “For ye see your calling brethren that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called…but God hath chosen the weak, base, despised things of the world, I Corinthians 1:26, 29. And of a truth, experience teaches that they are found more often in humble cottages than in palaces.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): A man may be rich and godly, but it is because now and then God will work some miracles of grace.

LADY SELINA HASTINGS, COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON (1707-1791): God has said “not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” I am thankful for the letter ‘m’.

 

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