Summary: A study of the danger that the good times in our lives pose to our Christian lives.
Faithfulness in good times as well as bad
There is a famous poem that is frequently used in Christian circles, it has been used here a few times, it is called ’footprints’. It is about how the Lord carries us through the difficult times of life. There are also many songs about the faithfulness of God through the bad times of our lives, which we all get, times when there is loss or bereavement in our families, times when we might not have a job etc. Many of us here are having such a bad time, for some of us it seems to have been going on for years and there is no apparent way out of it.
However most of us also have periods in our lives when things go better, not necessarily financially, but when we have friends, a job we like etc. For some of us the bad times become a time when our faith is tested, but for others they are a time when we grow closer to God. An example of this is in the attack on America on September 11th 2001, when many people moved closer go God. Also we see the wonderful state of the Church and the lives of Christians in developing nations. Just as some of us here are having a bad time, some of us are in a good time.
Britain, like the rest of the western world is in the middle of a good time, yet instead of moving to the Lord who has given us the good time, we are moving away from him. We mentioned the blessing that many of us have during the bad times, it seems that it is often harder to stay focussed on God during the good times than in the bad times. I admit that I am one of those people.
In the book of Deuteronomy the Israelites were on the brink of a goodtime, when they were going to enter the Promised Land. God promised them that he would be richly blessing them in many ways. Just as he is richly blessing our corps here now. Before they went in, God warned them what might happen to their relationship with him.
Pride – no need
The first danger of the good times is pride. Things start going well for us and we start to take the credit. We believe that it is our own cleverness or worthiness that has got us the good time and that we deserve it.
This is was what God warned the Israelites about:-
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
This reminds me of an old joke that says that an Englishman likes to think of himself as a self-made man, therefore dissolving the almighty of a grave responsibility. We like to think that we deserve what we have got, that we are responsible when things go right.
Pride has got quite a good name for itself these days, it is often regarded as a virtue or a desirable attribute. A whole industry has grown up around self-esteem. Low self-esteem is often held to be the source of endless problems. But scripture teaches us that pride is a sin. It is a sin because it dethrones God. It takes the credit and praise away from him.
When we become proud we become self-sufficient and think that we can manage on our own, without God. When things are not going so well, we know that we need him.
I cannot swim, despite growing up in a seaside town in Cornwall. I used to try as a little boy. I remember one day going into a swimming pool with a rubber ring and inflatable arm-bands, and I managed it. So I through the bands my mum on the poolside, thinking I could swim on my own, and immediately I began to sink.
When our self-esteem becomes high we might begin to think that we deserve our blessings, that God is duty bound to give them to us and we stop becoming thankful.
Complacency and contentment
A second danger is that we become content with the good times. That might seem to be a bit of a contradiction from what I normally preach, about discontent being the problem rather than contentment. However, what I mean here is that we can become content with the nature, the quality of what we have, our friendships, our jobs, our possessions rather than the quantity. We become content with the passing good things that we have, rather than the eternal good things that we can have with Christ.
This is what God warned the Israelites about:-
Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;