You can just picture it in your mind. It's a scene of luxury: ivory furnishings, fine dining, flowing wine, musicians strumming in the background, the air scented with heavy perfumes. With a few verbal brushstrokes, the prophet Amos paints a portrait of his time (Amos 6:3-6)â€”yet it is one easily transcribed to ours. Israel under Jeroboam II (c. 782-753 BC) enjoyed a time of expansion and heightened prosperity. In various regions of the world today, with expanding trade and new technologies, people enjoy a similarly high standard of living.
Prosperity may pose challenges to our spiritual well being. Surrounded by material comforts, we may forget the source of all things, the Lord. Without the restraints of hardship, we may succumb to small indulgences, which may lead to graver sins. A warning might be taken from the pronouncement Amos made of the Lord's judgment. "Woe to you who are at ease," he says, "who put far off the day of doom" (Amos 6:1,3). Self-assured, they are unaware that judgment is upon them. They fail to realize that their displays of piety are meaningless when unaccompanied by true compassion. "I hate, I despise your feast days," the Lord says, "Though you offer Me burnt offerings I will not accept them" (Amos 5:21-22).
When things are going well in our lives, we may feel pretty spiritually fit, too. Perhaps we attend church regularly, make our offerings to God, and feel comfortable with the status of our faith. But have we stopped to consider the true meaning of worship, the essence of the teachings we practice? Are we reminded that God has higher expectations, a higher purpose in what He requires of us?
In the midst of abundance, an outpouring of justice. In acts of worship, a steady current of righteousness. It means sensitivity to the needs of those less fortunate when we have plenty, and responding with compassion. It means worshipping, offering, and serving not out of form or duty, but out of faithful reliance on God and the righteousness that only He supplies.