While wealth and prosperity may be a blessing from the Lord, they represent a certain temptation, humanly speaking, for those trust in their wealth. Our Lord Jesus told this parable:
At that time, Jesus told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
Wealth and prosperity are much welcomed and valued in this world, yet they are of no value in any life beyond this world. They are thus the materialist’s best friend for getting through this life. For those who believe in God, life in this world represents only a limited portion of the life in God – for God’s plan and Kingdom exist beyond the limits of death and this world. Thus wealth and prosperity cannot be judged only for their value in this world but also for the impact they may have on life in the world to come. St. John Chrysostom (sounding a bit like the Buddha) says that the wealth of this world is but a dream—when we die, we will awake from this dream and understand the true value of wealth.
“Present realities, you see, are no better than a dream; rather, just as people imagining in sleep they have money, even in control of a king’s ransom, are more indigent than anyone once day dawns, so too with this life, because you can take nothing to the next, you will be more indigent than anyone, even if in possession of everyone’s property. You were rich in dream only, after all.”
Prosperity squandered on one’s self in this world is of no real benefit in this world for bringing about satisfaction nor in the world to come. Profligacy and prodigality do not quench one’s selfish passions but rather inflame them. Taking all one can get leads to wanting more, not to being satisfied let alone being generous. Overeating leads to obesity to longevity. Sharing one’s food, even with a modicum of ascetic self denial, can lead to longevity of life in this world, and eternal blessings in the life of the world to come.
Take a few minutes to read Leo Tolstoy’s HOW MUCH LAND DOES A MAN NEED?