When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, their leader, Moses, cautioned them, saying: “Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)
Today, we live in the most powerful nation the world has known, and we have the largest economy that the world has known, so it is tempting for us to claim that our own power and might have made us an affluent nation. But just as Moses cautioned his people not to claim for themselves the credit for their success we, too, need to be reminded that it is only by God’s providence that we have the abundance and security that is ours.
Moses warned the Israelites, “If you do forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.” (Deut. 8:19)
Recently, as a nation, we have seen a significant drop in the number of people who worship regularly. We are not abandoning our faith in God for idols. Our false god is the affluent lifestyle with which we have been blessed. We spend our Sabbaths shopping, or entertaining ourselves with hobbies, pastimes. and recreation, or we devote our Sabbath days to work to gain more affluence.
Perhaps the shaky economy we have been experiencing of late should be viewed as a similar caution to what Moses warned. The prophet Micah wrote, “. . . What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8)
Even with an uncertain economy, we are still a people blessed with abundance. During this season of Thanksgiving, do not forget to give God thanks for all you have, including this land of justice and freedom. And as we look toward the Christmas season, let us remember the reason for our celebration.