Christians may wrongly conclude that prosperity, success, and comforts are always blessings.
John Flavel rightly notes that whether prosperity, success, or comforts are blessings that benefit our souls is determined by the manner in which they come to us and their effect on our lives.
He warns that prosperity, success, and comforts are not a blessing in these circumstances:
- If we did not pray for them. “It is a sign that comfort is not sanctified to us, which does not come ordinarily in the way of prayer.” We may receive the desires of our heart, but are our desires holy? Have we submitted our desires to God in prayer?
- If we obtain them by sinful means. “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8; ESV).
- If our enjoyment of them leads us to forget God.
- If we use them to gratify our sinful passions.
- If they leave us proud and conceited.
- If they make us indifferent to the public sins of our society.
- If the pleasure they bring causes us to forget the sufferings of others.
- If they distract us from our Christian duty.
When God sends prosperity, success, and comforts our way, let us pray that love for God and increasing holiness come with them. Otherwise, they are not blessings; they harm our souls.
John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence. 1678 (Banner of Truth: 1991), 203.