My uneasy laugh must have stemmed from the fact that the quip contained both true and false elements.
The Bible never claims that money is the root of all evil. It only asserts that the love of money becomes the “slippery slope” for so many who choose evil over good because of the financial ramifications.
The other reality is this; many televangelists want people’s money and will do almost anything to get it!
It’s a sad commentary on self-centered human nature that many people use religion for illegitimate purposes. The news has been replete with reports of abuse by “holy men” hucksters who hawk everything from prayer handkerchiefs to Jordan River water. The water is then sent to unsuspecting responders in small plastic vials as the cure for all of life’s problems.
Recently, an investigation was launched by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa into the ministries of half a dozen Christian televangelists. Letters have been sent to each media ministry requesting answers. These letters ask about their expenses, executive compensation packages, and opulent lifestyles, including private jets and fancy cars.1
Each one being investigated lives a lifestyle that few of them preach to ever achieve. No formal allegations have been made on whether or not these televangelists are guilty of any wrongdoing. However, the perception that many in public have of them and their ilk cannot be ignored. Christians who guard the name of God with reverence and honesty need to pay attention to how God’s name can be misused and maligned by smiling “prosperity” tale-bearers.
It’s a sad fact, but there are people who legitimately suffer from emotional, physical, or financial pain. They often call the toll-free hotlines of pious-appearing charlatans in a “last-ditch” effort. They are desperate to bring sanity, health, and financial wholeness back into their lives.
In contrast, some televangelists with cheesy, pseudo-sincere grins use the ill-gained loot to board a private jet that whisks them off to some exotic location for rest and relaxation. They live a life of wealth and leisure. Meanwhile, they promise those suffering will enjoy everything if they send in a little more cash.
This kind of activity hurts needy respondents in two ways. First, many are put into even worse financial hardship by calling and committing “faith seed” money to these flamboyant phonies. Second, when deliverance doesn’t come as promised, they actually blame God for not keeping up His end of the bargain.
The Rich and the Kingdom of Heaven
Jesus had hard words for those who prey upon the pain and suffering of others. He spoke especially to those whose greed eclipsed their ability to be kind and loving in order to make a buck. Society was not much different in His day. The rich often used and abused those who were less fortunate so they could pad their own pockets.
Check out this statement of Christ to His disciples. He was speaking about the selfishness that is often indicative of those who seem to have it all.
“Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom” Mark 10:23-25 (Message/Remix).
What the Bible Says About Money
Those words aren’t the only ones found in scripture either. Here are a couple of other passages that speak to the same issue:
“You can’t worship God and money both” (Matthew 6:24 (Message/Remix).
“Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble” 1 Timothy 6:10 (Message/Remix).
It’s clear that money isn’t inherently evil, but people can be when one of their only purposes in life is to get more of it. A wealthy person with a spiritual heart can be such a blessing to everyone around them. A wealthy person without a conscience who claims to be a believer can make Christianity look pretty evil.
Just like a wrench, hammer, or screwdriver, money is a tool. Used properly it can do much to build up the kingdom of God. However, when it’s used for only selfish gain, the negative impact on the world around us can be devastating.
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Michael Temple writes from North Dakota.
1. Original story CBS 46, Atlanta. Article web site is found at: http://www.cbs46.com© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.