FreeGoodNews.com (Series: "Christian Greed")

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Monday, January 31, 2005

Greed: deception #2: It's OK to have wealth

Greed: Deception 2: It's ok to be wealthy.
By Bernie Dehler



mammom
Mammon: The God of Money
(Click here to find out what our Lord Jesus thinks of him.)

Is it ok to be wealthy? Well, actually, yes. Then why am I writing this, as if being wealthy is some kind of sin? Because I know lots of wealthy people, and none that I think understand the seriousness of this.

Most Christians are aware that money is not the problem; it's the love of money that is the problem (1 Timothy 6:10). Do they love money? Here's where the deception comes in. They tell themselves that they don't love money; that the material possessions mean nothing to them. I'm afraid they are deceived (remember, if you are deceived, you don't know it, or else you wouldn't allow yourself to be deceived). Because of the nature of deception, this is something you really have to open yourself to and ask God to search your heart.

Let me ask you something; how can you live in luxury when you have brothers and sisters in Christ dying from starvation? Where is the love of God (this is from Scripture, James 2:14-17 )? How is it that a high profile media minister, like CBN's Pat Robertson, can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a race horse and racing, simply because he think's it's a fun hobby? Can he explain that to his brothers/sisters in Christ when he meets them in heaven? (Click here for the full story.) (By the way, if you are a Christian and really claim to not know that there are dying kids from starvation or how to help them, just click here to fix that problem!)

Oh yes, there are plenty of good comebacks to rationalize why it's ok to be wealthy or to have fine things in life, but they are all based on American capitalism. (Yes, there are also examples from the Old Testament, but the New Testament is the "newer light" that we should be understanding.) "He worked hard for his money." So what? It was a gift from God, who gave the person the ability to make it (brains, health, opportunity, etc.). Can't this person who earned it be a good steward?

One time a very religious rich man came to our Lord Jesus, and asked what he should do to get eternal life (Mark 10:21). The Lord ultimately pushed him to the limit and told him to give all his money to the poor, and then follow Him. The rich young man couldn't do it. Could we? Oh, here is where almost every Evangelical preacher says "The Lord pushed this man because he knew that this guy had a love for money. He doesn't ask the same of us." Uh... actually our Lord did. Here's the verse where He speaks to everyone: Luke 12:33 . The early disciples all lived this way, sharing everything (Acts 2:44-45 & Acts 4:34).

There's even a story our Lord Jesus told about a "fool" who made a lot of money and saved it up to live an easy life in retirement (Luke 12:13-21). Can we see the "foolishness" in this; or if this man were in our church, would we envy him?

Am I suggesting that we start Christian communes? Not at all. But I am suggesting that we (in the USA) are almost all polluted and deceived by commercialism and capitalism, and we are deceived.

I hope that this "issue of wealth" is something that you'll think and pray about... you need to search your heart and ask God. Don't ask your Pastor, as he likely has the same problem. And yes, it doesn't help that the evil "prosperity Gospel" is being preached on TV by the likes of TBN, and continues to delude the masses (Christian and non-Christian) who watch it. Rather than proclaiming the truth, this form of "Christianity" is actually doing more harm than good to the cause of Christ.

To leave a comment here, click on the link at the very bottom that says "Post a Comment."

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Scriptures used:

1. 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

2. James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

3. Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

4. Luke 12:33 (Jesus talking) "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."

5. Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

6. Acts 4:34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales

7. Luke 12:13-21
13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops."
18"Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.""
20"But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" 21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

4 Comments:

Blogger FreeGoodNews.com said...

People may ask me "Why be so judgemental? Who made me God, that I could just others like this?" The fact is, God has already judged the church with the problem of greed, read about it here: http://biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev%203:14-22;&version=31; (Rev. 3:14-22)

...Bernie

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I disagree with Bernie’s parenthetical statement “Yes, there are also examples from the Old Testament, but the New Testament is the "newer light" that we should be understanding.” The New Testament does not replace or dismiss the Old Testament. Jesus said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17). Paul said that “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) – and he was talking about the Old Testament, since there was no New Testament Scripture at that time! (Note that I am not suggesting that Paul’s statement should not be applied now to the New Testament as well.)

I also disagree with Bernie’s singling out of “brothers and sisters in Christ” when talking about people who are in need. Jesus didn’t teach us that we are to take care of only his followers. In fact, after teaching us to “love our neighbor” and then being questioned about who our neighbor is, he responded with the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), in which our “neighbor” is “a man (who) was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho” – that is, an average person going about his daily life.

I disagree when Bernie frowns upon capitalism (“Oh yes, there are plenty of good comebacks to rationalize why it's ok to be wealthy or to have fine things in life, but they are all based on American capitalism.”) I agree, though, when he implies that capitalism can be a tool which Christians use to guide those who have gone astray: “Some of these ministries are well managed by good stewards, and they should be rewarded”. I applaud Bernie’s efforts to make more people aware of the salaries of executive ministers. If we were all to channel our charitable gifts toward those who will use them wisely, the bad stewards would quickly go out of business. That’s capitalism!

God does bless the faithful with material wealth; Abraham, for example, had to be one of the richest nomads ever to live in a tent: “So he said, ‘I am Abraham's servant. The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, camels and donkeys.” (Genesis 24:34-35). God’s blessings may also come to an entire nation, as to Israel: “The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked of the Egyptians jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing; and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they despoiled the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:35-36) In the same way, God has blessed America. Of course, God also reserves the right to rebuke us when we get greedy, as in the story of greed and the riches of the fallen Jericho (Joshua 6:18-19, 7:11-21).

Bernie does clarify that he’s not advocating self-imposed poverty (“Am I suggesting that we start Christian communes? Not at all.”), although some people may find themselves to be called to a life of poverty and deprivation and choose that path joyfully. And I agree that we should do as Bernie recommends – “ask God to search your heart” to determine whether we suffer from a love of money. However, I don’t think we should feel the need to equalize our wealth down to some arbitrary level, particularly if we feel sad and regretful about doing so (as the Pat Robertson story Bernie linked to says that Pat felt about giving up his horses). God does not bless everyone equally: “For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” (Matthew 25:14-15) Unequal blessings are justified: “Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matthew 20:14-15)

Bernie initially keeps wealth and greed distinct – he says “Most Christians are aware that money is not the problem; it’s the love of money that is the problem”. But then he goes on to judge as greedy those who earn more than his opinion of what constitutes a fair salary: “Personally, I feel that $150K should be a top salary.” The problem with judging others – besides the fact that Jesus warned against it (Matthew 7:1) – is that different people have different opinions about what constitutes “too much” wealth. We could start by selling our expensive horses – whether they eat hay or guzzle gas. But maybe we shouldn’t even buy that new car when we could buy a used car for less and give the difference to charity. Maybe we shouldn’t buy a car at all, and rely on public transportation, bicycles, and feet. Maybe we should sell our expensive house and buy a cheaper one, or even rent instead. Maybe we should have (more) roommates or combine families under one roof so that our housing costs less. Maybe we should only buy store-brand food because it’s cheaper. No matter how much we shrink our budget for the purpose of giving away the excess wealth, we can always be judged as greedy – especially by those who are less wealthy. And many of us would only be bitter about it in the end – so we still aren’t loving God.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My personal opinion is God allows things I think TBN, Word network, and other gospel station service a purpose because many people have come to christ through televison ministry, (paul also talked about that there were people in his day preaching the gospel some for gain some for truth sincerity but never the less the gospel was being preached, but I think thats were we as baptized believer in christ Jesus should know Christ for yourself, and the Holy Spirit will not lead us astray, we must depend on God's holy spirit to guide direct even in our giving, because we do have people that are out for self gain, but who am I to judge, thats God business because we all have to answer to him, I just pray to stay true and not get caught up in greed, because I believe whatever God blessed us with its to be a blessing to others, God does not give us wealth to store up for ourselves, all about building up his kingdom, not our kingdom, and I must admit we in this United State, are so wealthy and we are so wasteful, and plentiful, and shame on minister of the gospel who prey on others for gain but it happens. take from the poor and they go home to there fine homes, but the bible tell us to muzzle not the ox, the tread out the corn (the word) and also the one who labour in the gospel must live by the gospel it is our duty to support our pastors, and the church, nothing wrong at all being a blessing to your leaders, God will reward you for that, but again we must be careful with that, because greed, money, and timothy says has turned many in the wrong direction,so that why we must pray for our leaders, pastor whom God has set entrust of the Gospel, even TBN, because I hear a lot of great testimony and I know some of these people are not just faking, so God is doing a great work so I pray for them and lift them up before God.

2:56 PM  
Blogger FreeGoodNews.com said...

About TBN, yes, no doubt, they have led many to the Lord. But, don't forget the other side of the equation; they are also destroying the faith of many by the false "health & wealth" (and give-to-get) "gospel" preaching.

We need more Bereans!

Acts 17:11
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

3:15 PM  

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