Updated: Nov 11, 2020
There is an old Afghan story that goes like this;
A boy is given a horse on his 14th birthday. Everyone in the village says, “Oh how wonderful.” But a Zen master who lives in the village says, “We’ll see.” The boy falls off the horse and breaks his foot. Everyone in the village says, “Oh how awful.” The Zen master says, “We’ll see.” The village is thrown into war and all the young men have to go to war. But, because of the broken foot, the boy stays behind. Everyone says, “Oh, how wonderful.” The Zen master says, “We’ll see.”
I was reminded of that proverb a few weeks back when I met with a Christian man who sold his business four years ago. He had come to me because I sold my business 35 years ago. He wanted to know what challenges he might face with his newfound wealth and time. At the time of the sale he was praising God for his good fortune to cash in, and use that time and money to invest in his family and the kingdom. “I’m so grateful to God for this blessing,” I remember him saying. And remembering this Afghan proverb, I said, “We’ll see.” My comment surprised him so he asked what I meant by that.
“Wealth creates the illusion of independence from God. The poor have to depend on God for their ‘daily bread.’ It’s easy for wealthy Christians to lose that perspective. The second temptation you’ll have is excess time. Too many Christians, who say they want to serve God with their newfound freedom, often end up serving on a few boards, killing time in pleasantly warm places and buying more stuff. So be careful before you praise God for this “blessing.” Whether it will truly be a blessing, or not, will depend on how you use your wealth and freedom.”
Sure enough, here he sat four years later. He had not used his freedom and wealth wisely. He felt purposeless without his business. He had an affair with a personal trainer and was in the process of a divorce. Realizing the horrible mistakes he had made, he now wanted advice.
“Get right with God and do everything he tells you to do, including cutting off your relationship with this other woman, and ask your wife and children to forgive you and do everything you can to save your marriage and restore your integrity.” But like the rich young ruler, he said he wouldn’t give up his “new love.” “Then I can’t help you,” and our meeting was quickly over.
The point of this blog? Yes, God does bless believers with good things and great opportunities. However, Satan also tempts us with opportunities. Unless we are constantly aware of this cosmic battle for control of our lives, we may fall pray to Satan’s schemes.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” James 1:13, 14
So be careful of the “blessing” of an unexpected inheritance, buyout for early retirement, or a new co-worker who is both extremely competent and good-looking. Satan may be laying his next trap.
This Thanksgiving, please think twice before you thank God for your second home, your fat retirement account, or great income. If they are not helpful for you becoming a more fully devoted follower of Jesus, and more dependent on God for everything, they may not be a blessing at all.
How following Jesus works in real life.
If you found this blog and are not a regular subscriber, you can take care of that right HERE.