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Money In The Way

Posted on Apr 26 , 2014 in Life Lessons & Ministries

Money In The Way

© By Brad L Hodges

“Well, you can vote ’em out jus’ as quick as you vote em in. They’ve done a fine job. Tell you what they did-you know the Holy Roller preachers all the time follow the people around, preachin’ an’ takin’ up collections? Well, they wanted to preach in this camp. And a lot of the older folks wanted them. So it was up to the Central Committee. They went into meeting and here’s how they fixed it. They say, ‘Any preacher can preach in this camp. Nobody can take up a collection in this camp.’ And it was kinda sad for the old folks, ’cause there hasn’t been a preacher in since.” John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath – Chapter 22)

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver ◄ 2 Corinthians 9:7 ► (NIV)

God doesn’t need our money, trust me. If God wants something done on earth that requires the insignificant-to-him, human only, element of cash, He will provide it or a suitable substitute for the need.

As in Steinbeck’s paragraph above, too many religions and too many “Holy Roller preachers” have made money so important that if they can’t get it they would rather pass on ministry, the very reason they are ‘in business’ in the first place.

A good number of so-called ‘televangelist’s” have given believers a bad name and decimated their character and intended ministry over money. Who can forget Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and their 1984-1987 PTL’s fund-raising scandals? Or even the famous Oral Roberts had fund-raising controversies in the late 80’s.

Organized religion gives great weight to money and earthly assets.

Relying heavily on church records in countries that require far more disclosure than the United States, University of Tampa sociologist Ryan Cragun and Reuters estimate that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) brings in some $7 billion annually in tithes and other donations.

It owns about $35 billion worth of temples and meeting houses around the world, and controls farms, ranches, shopping malls and other commercial ventures worth many billions more.

According to a March 14, 2013 article in Slate; “Pope Francis is not just the spiritual leader of one of the world’s major religions: He’s also the head of what’s probably the wealthiest institution in the entire world. The Catholic Church’s global spending matches the annual revenues of the planet’s largest firms, and its assets—huge amounts of real estate, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Vatican City, some of the world’s greatest art—surely exceed those of any corporation by an order of magnitude.”

Now granted while the vast amounts of money from these religious organizations is [italics] supposed to go to hospitals, charities, the needs of church members and the poor, the real estate holdings alone are staggering. And nobody knows where all that money really goes because religious groups don’t need to follow regular accounting and disclosure rules.

Now I don’t intend to bash these groups, because of course much of their money truly [italics] does go to help the poor and those in need of other help such as medical, temporary financial setbacks in life, housing, etcetera. I personally have received financial assistance in real times of need from religious organizations during a couple of points in my life.

It is also no secret that having a lot of money on a personal level, aside from focusing on the large religious organizations financial pictures, can cause legions of problems. Some of the richest people on the planet are among the most unhappy and unfulfilled humanity among us. One only need look at celebrities to have read that novel. Those focused on personal wealth to the exclusion of all else have little room for helping others or the ministry of Jesus.

The main point is that money can get in the way of ministry at all levels and a believers character specifically. Where there are vast sums of money there will always be human greed and corruption in one form or the other. The very thing that is supposed to offer charity, because it is carried on by broken human beings, often becomes an edacious temptation for people.

As always believers should follow the example of Jesus in everything we do, and what does Jesus say about it and what weight does he put on money and the ‘self’ (institutionally or individually) that often goes with it?

Luke 20:45-21:4
[45] While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, [46] “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. [47] They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

[21:1] As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. [2] He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. [3] “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. [4] All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Matthew 6:24
“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.

Matthew 6:19-21
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 23:23
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Finally, Jesus sums up why one should never let money get in the way of ministry or character in Matthew 6:1-4;

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

While humans obviously have needs that often require money and sometimes one must minister to physical needs before you can reach someone’s spiritual needs due to hunger or physical impairment, our ministry on earth is to teach others about the salvation offered by Jesus so they can get to eternity where they (or you) can’t bring money regardless of how much or little they may have.

Jesus and his handful of disciples influenced the world and the message of salvation more than any rich individual or giant religious organization ever have. They didn’t, nor us as contemporary disciples should, ever let money get in the way.

What do you think? What has been your experience? Have you witnessed money getting in the way of ministry in religious organizations or by individuals? Please leave your comments below.


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