Our bible’s inspired warnings about how we handle money are there for a reason. The Old Testament is rife with warnings, examples of misuse of money, and having wrong attitudes about it. Mixing money and worship never works if you bring the wrong attitude along. Jesus told several parables about money and the Holy Spirit inspired several of the Apostles to issue warnings about it.
I’d like to take a look at the tie between money and worship.
The Tribulation will be a time when the fullness of sin will be allowed to prosper. It means that the world will be saturated with sin to an extent not seen since the Days of Noah. (Matt. 24:37-38). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” (Gen. 6:11-12).
With the Holy Spirit restrainer out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7) sin will come to the full. One of those sins has always been the corrupting influence of money in the church. It was a problem even in James’s day. (James 2:1-7). In James it speaks about not favoring the ones who come to church dressed well and obviously wealthy over the ones who arrive looking bedraggled and poor. It says to make no distinction between the rich and the poor. The warning exists because it is fallen man’s natural tendency to try and curry favor with the ones who have money, influence, or power. But when money is used as an influence-maker, and being born again do not mix.
The influence of money skews worship. Look how adulterated things had become in Ephesus. When Paul proclaimed Jesus, and said that their god whom they worshiped (Diana) was a work made of man’s hands and thoughts, there was a riot.
“For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” (Acts 19:24-27).
Most telling: ‘men, you know from this business we have our wealth.’ What business? The trinkets for worship business. I am not making this up, but I knew a man who used to take many business trips to Italy to look for items that would end up churches or funeral homes, mostly Roman Catholic churches. Crucifixes, Jesus-art, silver and gold accouterments to the ordinances, etc. He used to describe his import-export business as “Junk for Jesus.” I think Demetrius could describe his living as ‘Debris for Diana.’
Pagan idolatry corrupts. When the true church is corrupted, money is almost always at the root of it. Wrong attitudes about money are a hindrance to true worship. Demetrius was upset. Note that his opposition to Paul was first that his silver business would decline. Diana was second.
Peter reminded the pastors to enter into their calling not for ‘filthy lucre’ but out of eagerness to serve God. (1 Peter 5:2). Deacons are not supposed to be lovers of money. (1 Tim 3:3).
A false prophet’s motivation will be money. In the case of when lucre becomes filthy it is when people USE God to make money. They turn Christianity into a trade, and industry upon which they make money.
We are not talking about hating money in and of itself. We need money for the practicalities of pastor salaries, church operating expenses, missions support, and charity. Money serves those biblical purposes. But the fleshly drive to acquire a huge personal wealth from your service to God cannot be justified.
TD Jakes was in the news this week. There was a huge gala held at the AT&T Performing Arts Center/Winspear Opera House in Dallas TX. It was called “A Triumphant Journey” and since Mr Jakes says he is a man of God you would think that the title referred to Jesus’s triumphant journey from glory to earth and back to heaven again, triumphing at the cross for all time. You would be wrong. The second half of the gala title “TD Jakes 35th Anniversary”. It was a gala held to acclaim Jakes’s 35 years in the ministry. A gala for Jakes, about Jakes, uplifting Jakes. Ticket sales started at $150. The blurb states:
“an extraordinary 35th year celebration and Black Tie gala featuring distinguished celebrity guests, community leaders and special entertainment in celebration and honor of Bishop T.D. Jakes.”
|The Opera House was full, as celebrities sang Jakes’s praises
under banners proclaiming TD’s name.
The news review stated it was an… “epic-length event celebrated the Dallas-based spiritual leader, TV star and entertainment mogul for his 35 years of ministry. From the red carpet to the army of cameramen filming it for future broadcast to the $150-and-up ticket prices, it was a major soiree befitting The Potter’s House senior pastor…”
“And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)
|Source, HT Do Not Be Surprised|
|There was not only the gala, but the after-gala soiree. source|
Jesus said, “I tell you, they already have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-6). Gill’s Notes succinctly says, “verily I say unto you, they have their reward; and a poor one it is, the applause of men: however, it is what they seek after, and is all their empty performances deserve, and all they will have.”
Creflo Dollar was in the news this week. He allegedly hit and choked his teenage daughter in an allegation of domestic abuse. With is arrest comes scrutiny of his past. Remember that money was at the root of previous allegations. The Athens Banner Herald article strolled down memory lane, its report noting–
“Along with Bishop Eddie Long, Mr Dollar is one of the most prominent African-American preachers based around Atlanta who have built successful ministries on the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches. Ministers in this tradition often hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works.”
The article quoted Mr Dollar as saying–
“I stopped taking a salary,” he said. “But no one ask the question, ‘Where are you getting your money from?’ Well, I have boxes of invitations to speak. At first, I was glad to preach for anyone. What I didn’t know was I received a love offering for preaching. Back then, it was for $25 bucks. But over the years, people began to appreciate what I was bringing to them.”
To Mr. Dollar, money is the evidence that his work is appreciated? “I tell you, they already have their reward.” He was glad to preach to anyone “at first” but now, at the last, it takes money to get him to preach? That is certainly the implication I take away from the quote.
I started this essay with the reminder that during the Tribulation, sin will have its full, unrestrained expression. We will see the final unholy mix of money and worship when the Antichrist demands worship. He demands it. And in order to display that submission to his demand, you must wear a mark on your hand or forehead. The mark of the beast is a mark of worship. Primarily is it a visible demonstration that you claim antichrist as messiah. Note, though, how the antichrist ties in money with that worship. Economic Babylon and Idolatrous Babylon finally have their consummation: without that mark of worship, you cannot buy or sell.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Mt 6:24)
In the Tribulation, the people who love money will have no problem trading their very souls for it, (Rev 14:9-11) as they choose to worship the Antichrist, in that pinnacle of man’s craven attempts to meld both worship and the love of money- and they will lose it all, forever.