THE WALK OF SALVATION II
Dangerous Attitudes of Wealth
I have been involved with Charismatic teachings over the years and have some insight about the doctrines of wealth and prosperity. One of the main themes in this particular sect is the emphasis on material wealth and how God has included this blessing within His covenant. Learning is a never-ending quest for knowledge and yet the more I learn – the less I know. This article is not intended to be a money “basher” because I believe that money can be a blessing and I do believe that prosperity is included in the New Covenant. I believe that wealth is NOT evil in itself – but rather it is the “effect” that wealth has on the carnal conscience. Finances used in the right way according to God’s will can do many good deeds and bring glory to God.
As much as we desire money and believe it is a good thing, when it comes to the meaning of life and what is truly important in this world, I am beginning to understand that money falls to the bottom of the list of spiritual priorities. We are ready to pounce on those who speak in a negative way about materialism because we feel it is much better to be rich than to be poor, but in reality, money does NOT make us happy. Money cannot bring us contentment or deep personal satisfaction because it is only a “tool” that can help us accomplish something. If it is used to do God’s will, then it has the anointing and blessing upon it to bring Glory to His Name. If money is used with carnal motives and fleshly desires, it is wasted and becomes an instrument of darkness.
Why does the Bible say it is better to give than receive? Because our deeds are recorded and our obedience will be rewarded in this life and the next. The nature of God is to give as He “gave” His only Son to die for our sins, as He has also given us the beautiful earth to live in and the blessings of health and the opportunity to be saved and walk with Him in this life. So, does being wealthy inspire a person to give generously or does it cause a person to actually become more selfish? Being wealthy does not automatically produce a giving attitude. Selah. Remember the character of “Scrooge” that became possessed with piling up every penny he could make. He even seemed to suffer from his own greed by not allowing himself to enjoy the benefits of his wealth. Hoarding is the opposite of having the spirit of generosity and is in direct contrast to the Spirit of God.
I personally do not believe a person has to be rich to be a “lover” of money. There is no doubt many people who live in poverty are possessed with the love of money. The sobering thought here is how dangerous it is to become snared in this trap as the Bible say’s the love of money IS the root of ALL evil. On the other side of the fence, can a person be wealthy and not be in love with their wealth? I believe it is possible. Wealth is very sneaky and must be taken seriously for it has the potential power to control it’s owner or in other words, money can blind those who brag on their ability to see clearly – while actually possessing those who believe they are in control. It is true that God uses money to do His works, but many times money is used for carnal, selfish ideas and satisfaction – and in some cases in Jesus Name. I believe there are many ministers who are trying to build a legacy for themselves on the back of a profitable ministry. They desire to leave a “monument” in their name for the entire world to see, as one who dedicated their life to a cause so everyone can have respect and admiration.
We are reminded of Solomon’s depression while being one of the wealthiest men in the world. He had everything any person could have and in his sadness said, it is all “vanity”. Let us look deeper into why he might have felt this way. I do believe that the New Covenant of Christ is filled with spiritual and natural benefits, which are intended for enhancing our lives, but I am learning that these opportunities are based upon what God has planned for us since our birth – not entirely directed by our own ideas of personal pleasure. This earthly life was never intended for us to be self-sufficient without God but rather a school of learning about how to grow our spirit into a “master” over our carnality. The three parts of man (spirit, mind, body) must function in divine order or an imbalance occurs within the structure of our life. When this imbalance is not corrected, the results are devastating to the individual and to anyone who is connected with them. One of the very first important facts to remember in life is that all the wealth in the world is the Lord’s and all we can ever be is a good steward over it. Life is a test to see how well we can handle the illusion of wealth in order to prepare us for the spiritual reality of true eternal treasure. Selah.
It does not take a scholar to realize that money creates a false sense of security and nearly eliminates the need for faith and prayer. Our spiritual nature is being needy and obedient, with a humble understanding of our helplessness and a loving passion of His glorious presence. If we were rich, what would we need to have faith for that we could not buy? Moreover, what would we pray for, if we owned everything that could be bought? Why would we have to depend on God if we could just write a check for it? When we are frantic in a crisis there is desperation, but when we are at ease with our surroundings and we have everything we desire there is a shallow sense of dependence and security. This false sense of protection is not the genuine Godly contentment of inner peace and joy, but rather the emotional, generic feeling of not having a need for God. As followers of Christ, we have not been called to life an indulgent life of luxury because it dulls our senses to the sobering reality of a lost and eternally doomed world. Thousands of people each day go to an eternal destination of darkness and torment and our holy love for them should be of greater importance than compiling a legacy of personal achievements and treasures.
Jesus mentioned several times about giving away the objects that would cause distraction from His voice and give us a DIVIDED heart. The idea of taking up the cross is symbolic of selling out our lives our plans and desires, and exchanging them for a life dedicated to the cause of Christ. The world has promoted the idea within its system that climbing upward on the ladder of success is the way to become more accomplished. The natural man can only see the temporal world and to him this is the ultimate dream of life. He or she cannot see true reality because their spiritual eyes have not been opened. Only when we are born-again can we perceive the sick condition of our soul and the eternal remedy. The Romans are one example that clearly teaches us the negative effects of an empire that became so “drunk” with prosperity and pleasure that it became the very cause of their ruin. Unfortunately, we are following the same path of being a prideful civilization that is mesmerized with instant gratification and unlimited indulgence.
Let us turn our attention to the recorded conversation between Jesus and a wealthy young man in Mark, chapter ten. The rich young ruler is a very interesting true story because the fact of him being very wealthy is being mentioned intentionally for the benefit of the lesson being taught. One very important side we see is that rich people are never satisfied with riches, as he comes seeking Jesus to fulfill an emptiness in his life even though he is in need of nothing materialistic. The young man has everything this life has to offer and now desires to obtain everything God offers in the eternal life. He has realized the void in his soul, which is a very necessary part of the conviction process and has boldly come forward to learn what he must do to reserve a place of prominence at the heavenly banquet table. Jesus tells him to obey all of the commandments and he quickly replies that he has been aware of them and has kept them diligently, (which leads us to believe that he has knowledge of religion). Then we notice, that Jesus, looking at him – “loved him” and I am sure it is a reminder that he also loves us even when we do not comprehend his reasoning. Jesus as the Son of God and deity in the flesh, can discern this young man’s conscience, then says, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” The young man I presume was stunned at the request as it is recorded that he became sad and walked away grieved because he had great riches. I want to add a very important note here and that is; I am not saying that wealthy individuals do not desire and have a very fulfilling walk with Christ but I believe scripture is trying to reveal that it is extremely difficult. How many people who profess to love God would respond joyously without reservation at a command such as this? It would also be interesting to see the reaction from those who are poor and have very little worldly possessions. Let us continue with verse twenty-three. “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again and said unto them, Children, how difficult is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Jesus goes on to explain that it is NOT impossible for those with great riches to be saved but confirms the spiritual reality that it would only be possible through the divine power of God. It is naturally impossible for a huge beast to pass through the eye of a needle; however, Christ was painting a word picture, which would illustrate the awesomeness of God’s ability and glory. I am also convinced that as, (the eye of the needle could represent a low gate in which a camel would have to crawl on its knees to get through), any person who intends to keep a sharp focus on God’s vision for their life – must stay in an attitude of humility and prayer. A very sobering question arises out of this teaching – Is God asking every born again believer to sell everything they have and literally follow him? Many would argue that it is only a figure of speech or is this a smoothed over excuse to live a double life? How powerful and effective would the church be if every member was walking in God’s Spirit and totally focused on accomplishing His will – without always holding on to their desires? Was this a special mission for the twelve disciples only or did humankind rush in to “modify” this teaching of pure spirituality into a more manageable, “realistic” religion? Maybe after the disciples were martyred and the intensity of persecution against the first Christians was observed in fear and discouragement, the entire biblical idea was scrapped and a humanistic interpretation was carefully constructed. Thus, we have the modern day representative of what is supposed to be the nature and character of Christ. Sadly, the powerful waves of the Hollywood and their worldly influence has tempted the body of Christ and the average Christian has allowed the destructive influence of carefree lust to corrupt their mind and program their thinking from the innocence of sacred light to the perversion of darkness. The pure message of sacrifice is slowly being replaced with the normal lifestyle of carnal satisfaction.
Let us observe another important passage that exposes the confusion and carnality of those whose knowledge has not become a revelation. Jesus is addressing a congregation with a literal message of disappointment. These individuals are no doubt another example of what happens when wealth is converted into personal pleasure. One manifestation that occurs is a fact that eating tremendous amounts of rich delicacies causes not only health problems but also mental apathy, lack of energy, being tired and sleepy, laziness, depression, weakness, cloudy thinking, a lack of discernment and so on. In other words human flesh becomes stagnant and calloused when flooded with physical pleasure, and like a zombie, we lose our enthusiasm and excitement about everything – most importantly our spiritual responsibility and reason for living. No doubt, the enemy of our soul has learned over the years how the weapons of this life can be used against us to stop the advancement of what God is going to do. Let us be reminded that God does not necessarily have to have us to accomplish his will but does use man as his agents of change. God is in control and every word and prophecy will happen exactly as God has spoken it. So we clearly see how when the flesh becomes intoxicated to the point of being numb with the idea that “I do not need anything”, these tendencies present a very dangerous and ineffective state of being that is a definite hindrance to the healthy advancement of the kingdom of light. Revelation chapter 3 and verse 15 – 17 gives us a perfect example, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked:” These church people were wealthy and had allowed their prosperity to contaminate their attitude. They were calloused with pride and arrogance to the point of spiritual blindness. They were bragging about their abundance but had slid into a coma of selfish carnality that had become so sickening to God that he makes the vivid description of vomiting them out of his mouth, which must be a type and shadow of eternal outer darkness and separation from Him. I believe wealth that is inspired and given from God can be a blessing and a testimony to God’s grace. May we remember to give God thanks all year and not just at thanksgiving. He is worthy to be praised for all of the good things He gives for us to enjoy. He deserves our gratitude and in turn, we should develop the attitude of generosity toward others. The dangerous influence of wealth is too powerful for a weak mind and a weak spirit. Our spirit works with the Holy Spirit to control our conscience in the triune realm of man. Our challenge is when we become “determined” to obey God by allowing prayer and sacrifice to be who we are.
Author Thomas Carlyle tells how, when he was a boy, a beggar came to the door. His parents were out and he was alone in the house. On a boyish impulse, he broke into his savings bank and gave the beggar all that was in it, and he tells us that never before or since did he know such sheer happiness as came to him in that moment. There is indeed joy in giving.
Dear Father, we thank you for all that you give. The air that we breathe, the beautiful sky and the gentle breeze. The restful sleep, the pain free days and the blessings of having enough are gracious gifts from your hand. Help us to let go of “things” and hold tightly to your hand. You are Jehovah Jireh, our provider. Whether in abundance or in lack, we look to you as our source for all things. We love you with all our heart. Amen.