You can not serve God and money
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It all started a few years back when I was regularly listening to certain ministries who taught the prosperity gospel. Over the years I subscribed to a few of these ministry magazines and truly enjoyed their teaching, but every now and then while reading through the bible I would come across certain passages of scripture that seemed to contradict the themes of the prosperity movement. I also found it strange the way they interpreted certain passages of scripture, it was almost as if when they were done explaining them, that these passages meant the exact opposite of what they were plainly teaching.
During this season of learning, while the Lord was dealing with me about these various doctrines, I would find myself at times saying ‘something needs to be done about the extreme teaching coming from this camp’. I would also deal with some of the unbalanced teaching through the small avenues of influence I had through a local radio program and various speaking opportunities. I would even go through stages where I was so upset over some of the more extreme elements of this teaching, that I would avoid dealing with it at all because of the emotional baggage that comes with having to disagree with a brother in Christ.
Then why write this book? Each time I would determine to drop the whole matter and never deal with this issue again, something would happen, or be said on Christian television or radio, or be written in a new book, that was so off base that I would ask the Lord again if He wanted me to do more in bringing about a more balanced view of biblical prosperity. The most recent incident was while watching Christian TV one night, the preacher who was speaking is a well-known prosperity preacher. Before he preached he invited another prosperity preacher to share a ‘special’ revelatory word the Lord had given him, as the preacher came to the pulpit he began to lead the people in a series of confessions/actions that he told the audience to imitate in order for them to experience breakthrough in their finances. As he stood on the stage he then went through the motions of pulling down an imaginary lever on a slot machine while confessing in a very loud voice the words ‘MONEY COMING’. He did this three times while the audience followed. When they got to the last shout, the preacher emphasized the importance of this last shout, and as he led them in the pulling down of the lever they all shouted at the top of their lungs ‘MONEY COMING TO ME’
Well to say the least this was another one of those ‘incidents’ that caused me to ask the Lord if I should do more about such obvious abuse in the church. A few days later, while driving to work one morning, I remembered this incident and asked the Lord if he wanted me to write a book on this subject. Later on in the day during a lunch break, while reading through the bible during a regular devotional time, I just happened to be reading through the book of revelation, and when I came to revelation 1:19 where Jesus tells John to ‘write the things which thou hast seen’, it hit me like a ton of bricks. So here I am today, believing that this book will serve a definite purpose in the Body of Christ and cause us to return to a more balanced view of the ‘things of this world’.
CHAPTER 1 ‘YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON’
It has been said that the best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real. So let’s begin with a biblical look at true prosperity. In the past, while trying to deal with this subject, I would often find people responding in defense of the prosperity gospel by saying things like ‘oh, but you don’t know how good the Lord is’ or ‘you don’t know how much God wants to meet our needs’ or, ‘the bible doesn’t say money is evil, but the love of money’. To which I would reply ‘AMEN’, I agree with you. But the bible also gives us many warnings against materialism, seeking to be rich, and living for material things.
So while trying to deal with the false prosperity gospel, I would like first of all to establish the truth that God is good, he does want to meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart, and yes, he even wants to bless us financially and materially. God promises not only ‘heavenly’ or ‘spiritual’ blessings, but also earthly or material blessings as well. If you go through the bible from Genesis to Revelation you will find instances of Gods people being rich, prosperous and blessed in every way. You will find many promises of Gods provisions for us, not only spiritual but also financial and material. There is no doubt that God can, and does bless His children in all areas of life if they are obedient to Him.
We also know that there are many warnings in the N.T. against seeking to be rich, living for material wealth, and the like. So how do we harmonize these two truths?
Let’s look at the overall purpose of God for his church. We are commissioned by Jesus to tell the whole world about His love for us, so we can make disciples of all nations. The message from our lips, [and hearts] is to overflow with who Jesus is and what He’s done for us. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that as we proclaim and talk about Him, and seek first His kingdom, that He will take care of all the other less important things. MATHEW 6:19-24 ‘ LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON EARTH, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: BUT LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN,WHERE NIETHER MOTH NOR RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO…….. NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS: FOR EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE, AND LOVE THE OTHER; OR ELSE HE WILL HOLD TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER. YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON. THEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU, TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, WHAT YE SHALL EAT, OR WHAT YE SHALL DRINK; NOR YET FOR YOUR BODY, WHAT YE SHALL PUT ON. IS NOT THE LIFE MORE THAN MEAT, AND THE BODY MORE THAN RAIMENT? BEHOLD THE FOWLS OF THE AIR: FOR THEY SOW NOT, NIETHER DO THEY REAP, NOR GATHER INTO BARNS; YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDETH THEM. ARE YE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY? …… THEREFORE TAKE NO THOUGHT,SAYING WHAT SHALL WE EAT? OR, WHAT SHALL WE DRINK? OR, WHEREWITHALL SHALL WE BE CLOTHED? [FOR AFTER ALL THESE THINGS DO THE GENTILES SEEK;] FOR YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER KHNOWETH THAT YE HAVE NEED OF ALL THESE THINGS. BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THES THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU. TAKE THEREFORE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW: FOR THE MORROW SHALL TAKE THOUGHT FOR THE THINGS OF ITSELF. SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF’ Jesus is making a distinction between material things and the kingdom of God. He is saying if we seek first His kingdom, then all these material needs will be met. If the kingdom is about material things, then Jesus contradicted himself. The plain meaning and thought of this passage is that if we put God first, He will take care of us. Now say if the disciples took this to mean that the primary message of the gospel was ‘God will add all these things unto you’. And say if they went around teaching all nations to quote ‘all these things shall be added unto you’. And then all over Jerusalem and Judaea and unto the uttermost parts of the earth they had people quoting ‘all these things shall be added unto you’. And after a lifetime of ministry they taught the people how God would give them things if they kept quoting and meditating on the passages of scripture that speak about material wealth. What do you suppose Jesus would say when He comes back? First of all the plain teaching of Jesus in this passage is to get their focus [meditation, confession] off of material things. He plainly says that the ‘gentiles seek these things’, and that the disciples are not to be thinking about these things all the time like the gentiles. He tells us to focus on the kingdom as opposed to focusing on material things. He tells us that as we go forth by faith to proclaim his gospel, that he in turn will meet our needs. After all, the disciples left their jobs in order to follow Christ, and he was reassuring them that they would be taken care of materially if they forsook all to follow him.
I find it troubling that some teachers use this very passage in order to justify materialism, while the plain meaning of Jesus words are the opposite. Jesus says you cannot serve God and money. So we must take our minds and thoughts and meditations and focus them on God, not worldly things!
So true prosperity can be defined as God meeting all the needs of his children as they proclaim him in all nations. True prosperity is God meeting our needs while our focus is on him [not on our needs being met!]. True prosperity is being able to preach the word of God without a covetous motive [1 PETER:5:2].
I should make note that there are some who teach that this passage of scripture [MATT. 6:19-24] actually teaches that we have a bank account in heaven with real money credited to our account! And every time we sow [give into] the kingdom of God, that we are actually building a fund in this account. And that by faith you can claim a withdrawal on your account and receive your financial harvest now. But if this is what Jesus was teaching then the entire passage is twisted into turning our attention towards money once again! Jesus plainly warned us against focusing our thoughts on the material things in life, he told us not to be like the unbelievers who have all their possessions in this life only. Jesus told us to build up treasures in heaven, which meant a life lived for eternal purposes as opposed to temporary rewards. I believe that if we get our priorities right, that God will meet our needs, and we will be so excited about God and his kingdom that we wont even have time to think about serving mammon!
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