Success today is often measured by the accumulation of material possessions or the size of your bank balance rather than who you are and what you stand for. There are countless success gurus who peddle this philosophy across the Internet, media, books and magazines offering the lure of a six or seven figure income to those who follow their programs.
Sadly this same attitude validating the love of money is now evident in the modern church. Through televangelism and the rise of personality-based religion some pastors and ministers look more like rock stars than the humble servants of God. They flaunt the excesses of a material lifestyle and use slick marketing to "sell" Jesus like some commodity rather than giving the praise and honour due to the Son of God. I should add that not all ministers have fallen into this trap but the temptation is strong to follow this path rather than serve God as they should.
Is their anything wrong with having a lot of money and the finer things of this world? Not at all, but it depends how you get it, what you do with it and what it means to you, for material wealth brings its own set of issues.
These preachers state that you too are entitled to God's blessings but first you must give to the church, often quite significant sums in amounts sometimes well beyond means of the churchgoer. If you are unable to give these payments you are told you are robbing God and will not receive his blessings, which of course they measure as financial gain.
Their wealth, lifestyles and grand churches are paid for out of the tithes and offerings of their followers gained through at best a lack of understanding of the scripture and at worst, twisting the scriptures to their own benefit. But what is the Bible position in relation to this matter?
Everyone has heard the saying that "Money is the root of all evil." This comes from the bible but is usually mis-quoted as the correct scripture says, "The love of money is the root of all evils." (1 Timothy 6:10) Generally those first three words are ignored, which incorrectly puts the emphasis on the money rather than the lust for money. This scripture also adds, "...it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs." It is in this regard that these wealth-focussed ministers have fallen into a snare. They should also note the scripture which advises that, "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24) (Mammon being a Semitic word for riches).
Now I am not concerned with those outside the church but only those within and particularly those who are in positions of authority. Is it appropriate to measure the spiritual strength of a church based upon their financial strength?
Consider the message in Revelation to the church at La-odice'a saying, "For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." (Rev 3:17) This church had achieved tremendous material gain but lacked what was truly important. They believed that monetary gain equated to spiritual growth, which is utterly wrong. They were proud and arrogant in their opinion of themselves and God rejected them. He counselled them to seek the true gold in the teachings of Christ rather than material gain.
Money is not of or from God. It is a medium of exchange developed by the world. Even Christ showed this when he was on earth and was challenged over paying taxes to Caesar. When shown a coin to pay the tax he said, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21) In this statement he shows that money is of this world as it is belongs to the rulers of this world. Contrary to what these wealth-focussed preachers say, God is not seeking your money; he is seeking you.
The Apostle Paul also upbraids the leaders of the church when speaking of Elders or Bishops in Titus 1:5-11 saying they should not be "greedy for gain." He condemned those who were, "teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach." (vs 11) This is a clear indictment on the leaders of the church who succumb to the temptation and lure of material gain over spiritual growth. He further warns about those who are, "...imagining that godliness is a means of gain." (1 Timothy 6:5)
There is great gain in Jesus Christ through the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22), as well as the ultimate reward of life eternal through salvation in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul further says to Timothy, "There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1 Timothy 6:6-7)
Given the truth of this last statement, what real value is there in material gain? It is a trap set before man and the church to lure them away from the truth. It has become abundantly clear with the collapse of the world financial systems recently, driven by the greed of a few, that material wealth is a mirage and not something to be relied upon for security in this life.
The true blessings of God are not measured in dollars and cents but in peace, joy, love and the fruit of the Spirit. Those ministers who promote financial success as a measure of the blessings of God have fallen into the trap of lust for the things of this world. They need to take heed of the words of warning to the church at La-odice'a and go to God to buy the true gold.
I hope that you found something here to help you or add to your own knowledge. If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact me.