The Secret Sin That’s Preventing Your Prosperity6 min read
There is a secret sin that prevents prosperity. Most of us have fallen prey to it.
A friend from my high school and college days recently received a 15-year prison sentence.
He started a company that became a multi-million dollar empire. He was its CEO, paid more than 1 million dollars each month. As a perk, he had access to the company’s 3 private jets. He owned 6 homes–one on a private lake. He married a beautiful woman, and together they gave birth to a beautiful child.
By the world’s standards, he was prospering.
So why the 15-year prison sentence? Investment fraud. No one knew about it until it was too late. It was a secret that got dragged into the light, and put him and many others in a dark place.
Before we start throwing stones, we ought to shine the light into our own proverbial closets.
Your Secret Sins
Maybe you don’t even think about sin. It’s unpopular today to talk about sin in some churches…unless a church leader sins.
After all, we’re under grace and not under the law. Right?
But grace came through Jesus Christ, who had much to say about sin. Since Jesus started the conversation, I’ll join it.
Have you ever had a day where you thought you were doing pretty good. Maybe you thought it, and didn’t say it out loud: “I didn’t sin today!”
I have. It feels good to think it. If you listen carefully, though, there’s that Quiet Voice that follows. It’s the Holy Spirit saying, “Do you remember when you ___.”
You can fill in the blank. The Bible warns us that if we claim to be without sin, we’re deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8).
If the Bible is telling the truth, we all have secret sins–sins only known by you and God.
A guy came to Jesus with a secret sin. Remember the rich, young ruler? He came to Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to receive eternal life.
Jesus said, “Keep the commandments.”
I wonder what was unclear about Jesus’ response, because the ruler then asked, “Which ones?”
Jesus listed them. He listed 5 of the last 6 of the Ten Commandments. In place of the tenth commandment Jesus substituted, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The rich man then made a bold statement. “I’ve done all that. What am I missing?”
If we ask God what we’re missing, He’ll give us an answer–one that will probably make us squirm.
Jesus gave that kind of answer to this guy. He told him to sell everything he had, give the money to the poor, “and follow Me.”
The rich, young ruler couldn’t do that. He turned away, sad, and walked away from Jesus.
You might be thinking you’re ok. You’re not rich after all–maybe living on borrowed money for your house and cars. A weekend garage sale would clean you out.
When Jesus listed the commandments, He left off the one that tells us not to covet. Jesus read the rich man’s heart and knew that this rich man was addicted to satisfying his appetite.
If the rich man had his heart set on something he wanted, he bought it.
I wonder if that’s what happened to my friend who earned 15 years in prison.
But what about you and me? We might be a few dollars short of owning 6 homes. We may not have corporate jets at our beck and call.
Coveting is measured by our desire for something that’s not ours, not by the cost of the things we covet.
Coveting is a condition of the heart that remains hidden from most people around us. It’s a secret sin.
Overcoming coveting is at the core of each of God’s 10 commandments.
Coveting began in Eden when Adam and Eve fed their hunger for power they didn’t have. Their lust for power eclipsed their love for God.
Coveting exists in our refusal to rest when God says rest, when we take what’s not ours, when we lie, when we hate, and when we cheat. Coveting exists when we love ourselves more than we love our neighbor.
Jesus’ closest disciples got what Jesus was saying. One of them asked, “How then can anyone be saved?”
Jesus assured him that while saving ourselves is impossible, it is possible for God to save us (Matthew 19:16-30).
How to Lose Everything
We played capture the flag a lot when I worked at summer camp. The object of the game is to capture the opposing team’s flag from their base while defending your team’s flag from capture by the opposition.
The defense is played by keeping an eye on your flag while tagging the opposing team’s players who cross into your territory to capture your flag. A tagged player goes to the “jail.”
Focus too much on capturing your opponent’s flag and not on protecting your own, and you lose the game.
Coveting is cultivated by focusing on what we don’t have. Focus too much on what you don’t have, and fail to appreciate what you’ve got, and you can lose everything.
We get a lot of encouragement to focus on what we don’t have.
There are industries that profit from stimulating our appetite for things we don’t have.
Coveting prevents prosperity by turning our attention from the value of what we have to value what we don’t have.
God’s Key to Prosperity
What’s your focus? Are you focused on what you don’t have?
This doesn’t mean we don’t set goals to achieve our dreams, pursue promotions, or invest our resources in greater returns.
But we need to look at our motives. True prosperity comes from investing God’s blessings to making life better for others (Isaiah 58:6-11; Luke 6:37-38).
Do you need a change in your focus?
God gives us the power to transform our thoughts–to change our focus. We only have to ask for that power, then plug into it.
What’s impossible for us is possible for God.
Once we plug into God’s power we can take effective action to retrain our brain to recognize and appreciate God’s blessings, our successes…everything that’s good in our lives.
True prosperity starts with being content with what God has blessed you with, then using God’s blessings to bless others.
Here are 6 ways to get started:
1. Give Cheerfully
Give to help others. This includes tithing and giving offerings to the work of God’s church, giving to charities, and giving directly to people in need.
2. Express Gratitude
One way to do this is with a gratitude journal. Give thanks often.
3. Savor the Good
When you recognize something good in your life, appreciate it. Take some time to think about it, and let it sink in.
4. Serve the Poor
Giving of your time and effort to help others who have less than you will leave you with a greater appreciation for what you have.
5. Turn Off the Ads
Most advertising is designed to create an appetite for things you don’t need. Turn off the TV and radio commercials, block Internet ads, and unsubscribe from email ads, and you’ll have more time and money to use on what’s most important to you.
6. Stop Playing the Lottery
People who win big money in the lottery usually don’t live happily ever after. They’ve spent so much energy on focusing what they don’t have, they can’t appreciate what they have and lose it.
This isn’t a complete list. You might have something to add in the comments below about how to experience true prosperity. What can you do to experience greater prosperity in your life?