The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 10/19

Posted on | September 19, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 10/19

Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 5:1–17

When Blessings Become a Curse

If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. (Malachi 2:2)

In 1702 Cotton Mather, Puritan minister, theologian, and historian, wrote one of the first great works of English literature produced in the New World. The purpose of Magnalia Christi Americana (roughly translated, “The Glorious Works of Christ in America”) was to chronicle the story of the great New England religious experiment, recounting the Salem witch trials, the story of the founding of Harvard College, and much more.

Less than a century after the founding fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, Mather assessed that already America was becoming the victim of her own successes, something the founders had sought desperately to avoid. To put it succinctly, “Religion brought forth prosperity and the daughter destroyed the mother.” America’s prosperity was the result of God’s blessing, and yet these blessings were threatening to undermine the very purpose for which America had been given birth! Mather was deeply troubled by how material blessings were causing Americans to forget their “errand into the wilderness.”

The problem Mather highlights is still with us. God’s blessings are threatening to destroy us. What is to be done? If godliness produces prosperity and if prosperity destroys godliness, is there no way to prevent our blessings becoming a curse? Can the danger be averted?

Another eighteenth century pastor who wrestled with this dilemma was the English minister, John Wesley. Wesley had lived long enough to see the same problem manifested in English Methodism that Mather saw in American Puritan- ism. God’s blessings were destroying God’s people! When they stepped out and boldly trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God’s blessings flowed abundantly into their lives. Part of this blessing involved financial prosperity. But these blessings were now undermining the very faith that had made them possible. While Mather seemed to focus on stating the problem, Wesley sought to find a solution. In one of his published sermons entitled “On the Danger of Increasing Riches” Wesley wrote: There is one preventative of it, which is also a remedy for it; and I believe there is no other under heaven. It is this: after you have gained all you can (with the cautions above given), and saved all you can (yet hoarding nothing and laying not up treasures on earth), then give all you can; that is, all you have. I defy all the men upon earth, yea, all the angels in heaven, to find any other way of extracting the poison from riches.

Is there some area in your life today where God’s blessings have become a curse? Are the fruits of salvation threatening to destroy the roots? Then follow Pastor Wesley’s advice: Give, give, give all you can!

God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. —Randy Alcorn

point to ponder Have you experienced the “curse” of God’s blessings? If so, how did you respond?

prayer focus Your practice of giving.

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