I saw this exact picture posted on Facebook by one of my Christian friends. And many other Christian friends “liked” it. I’m not going to address the particular church pictured in the photograph. Nor am I today going to write about what more the church should be doing about starvation and poverty. That’s a huge world issue (and also church issue) that has to be discussed on a totally different level. But today I simply had to address something that many people seem to believe:
Wealth = An Unspiritual Person.
It feels so spiritual to believe this, since often people who have great wealth become corrupt. They can become proud and arrogant. They can have anything they want! And giving up things for God can feel so righteous! And indeed it is righteous and good to give, even sacrifically at times!
I think of many heroes of the faith and they all had this in common: they were unbelievably generous people. George Muller, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward and many, many others lived incredibly generous and poor lives, yet they blessed hundreds if not thousands of people. Even present day examples like Francis Chan truly encourage us to be willing to give it all up for God. He is worthy of all we can give!
And when we read about these amazing stories, we sometimes feel even more convinced that our riches will testify against us.
Let’s look at some of the scriptures that are often quoted to back up this belief:
“Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” James 5:3
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25
So many people understandably come to the conclusion that followers of Jesus should not be rich. After all didn’t Jesus once tell a rich man to sell all his possessions and then turn and follow him? We must all, therefore be called to do the same…right?
Actually the belief that it is wrong to be wealthy is so unbiblical and founded in judgement, pride and self-righteousness, that I would say that it’s actually just as wrong and deceptive as the prosperity gospel which teaches that all Christians will be rich, happy and healthy. Neither are biblically accurate. Neither are correct.
” For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10
The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money itself isn’t evil. Because if wealth equals sin, then what on earth are we to do with all the wealthy righteous people listed in the bible? How about the rich man, Joseph, who lovingly buried Jesus? Or Abraham who had riches, servants and livestock that outnumbered many of the kings in his day? Then we have Job, an unbelievably wealthy man in his time…yet God said that there was no one else in his day as righteous as him. Or King David. Or King Solomon (who also build a temple for God, made with gold!) And guess what…there were starving people back then too.
Yet somehow that “waste of money” seemed to please God.
Remember the story of the disciples judging Mary for “wasting” her perfume on Jesus’ feet? They ironically used the same argument, in the same way as the one above. I mean, just pouring out a years worth of wages, surely God wouldn’t approve of that waste!
“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray Him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor…” John 12:5
And here I say the same to you! Church, wake up! This “meme” was not made because of a person who actually cared about the poor! It was not made out of compassion! If it was about compassion it wouldn’t leave you shaking your head at “Those Rich Religious Christians” rather it would turn your attention to the poor! It would challenge you to look into your own heart and wallet to see if you could possibly sacrifice more to help!
But it didn’t accomplish that, did it? It was made for one purpose: To judge the way those “hypocrites” spend their money! And how DARE they make a fancy building to worship in?!?
If we really cared about where our money is going, why not post pictures like this:
Each year $25.4 billion is spent by Americans on professional sports.
$65 billion dollars was spent on soft drinks.
$18 billion was spent on credit card late fees in America.
$70 billion dollars was spent on lottery tickets in the year 2014 according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.
$90 billion dollars a year is spent on alcohol in the U.S. alone.
Americans spend $80 billion on cigarettes per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And here’s the deal, The annual estimated cost to end world hunger is $30 billion dollars.
Let that sink in for a moment.
That means if everyone in the U.S. would quit drinking alcohol for one year and drink water instead, we could end world hunger for three years.
But still, it’s so much easier to blame it on the church isn’t it?
Friends, I tell you, self righteously pointing at the way some spend their money, while wasting your own will never end world hunger and it will never end starvation. And I’m not writing these statistics to say that going to a NHL hockey game is wrong. Neither am I claiming that every Mega Church is spending their money right. But if we’re going to start picking out specks in our brother’s eye, we better make sure we are ready to take out the log in our own!
Money isn’t evil. The LOVE of it is. And having a big house, fancy clothes, a new car or even a big church doesn’t mean you are full of sin and greed anymore than having a small rental house, a rusty car, and a small church means you are free from sin or even that you’re spending wisely.
IT’s so so SO easy to look at others and say: “Well, if they can buy a car like THAT, they are obviously living for self!” Yet unknown to you, that person may be giving 90% of their money away and living off the rest. And you aren’t giving a dime to charity.
Please don’t post memes like this. It isn’t helping world hunger. Instead find a way rework your budget, have a yard sale, or organize a fundraiser to really help the cause.
Generosity pleases God. It’s a trait of a true follower of Christ. And if God’s asking you to sell your big house and move into a trailer: OBEY HIM. Bless you for being obedient, God will reward you!
But realize that God may call the next person to keep their home so that they can use it to offer the homeless a place to sleep, or to foster children, or to let their elderly mother move in so they can help care for her.
If you don’t have wealth, consider it a blessing, for much wealth brings many troubles. If you have wealth, consider it a gift, hold it loosely, and give generously, for what God has given you he can certainly take away.
And always remember that it isn’t about what you do or do not have, it’s the heart that God sees.