How often do we hear of people getting rich, living mostly happy lives then dying or becoming destitute all of sudden? This seems to happen to some lottery winners especially in the last 10 years. How about those folks who amassed great wealth and lived long lives, sometimes too long, and thought they could control people by conditionally sharing their wealth to meet their personal desire for mass control? When they go they are either heralded as good or evil men. How many of the wealthy follow God’s Word? How many manipulate it for their own conscious to be satisfied? Throughout Scripture we are constantly reminded how material wealth is deadly while spiritual wealth leads to life eternal.
That being said, why have so many popular pastors fallen into a false material prosperity gospel that does not lead to Spiritual happiness? I mean think about it. Books titled, Your Best Life Now, God’s Formula for Success and Prosperity, God’s Master Key to Prosperity and others have convinced many that God wants you to have materialistic (mostly monetary) wealth. Money won’t buy your place at the banquet table of Christ. This prosperity gospel is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture. Most of the progenitors of this heresy are televangelists who live lavish non humble lives. This ideology goes back to the mid-1960s and needs to stop.
Jesus tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6: 19-21
If God based a person’s faithfulness on their amassing of material goods then the poor would never even see the inside of a church. If this was true then Jesus would have welcomed the money traders and sellers of all goods (even sinful ones) in the temple instead of going on a rampage. He would have been more friendly to the members of the Sanhedrin than the poor and destitute. Get the picture yet????
How did the Catholic Church raise extra funds? Before we answer part of that let us look at Psalm 49:5-12.
Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice,9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit. 10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
The Catholic Church charged people money for saving a soul while in purgatory. They called it an “Indulgence” which was above and beyond the tithe paid weekly if they had a recently deceased relative. It was not covering burial costs but went into the Bishop’s and Pope’s pockets. Look at verses 7 through 10 again. We cannot ransom a soul.
Jesus spoke to us in parables that were clearly understood back in the time of His Ministry. Take for instance the story of the Rich man and Lazarus:
“Once there was a rich man who used to dress in the most expensive clothing and spent his days in magnificent luxury. 20 At his gate had been laid a beggar named El‘azar who was covered with sores. 21 He would have been glad to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table; but instead, even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 In time the beggar died and was carried away by the angels to Avraham’s side; the rich man also died and was buried.
23 “In Sh’ol, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Avraham far away with El‘azar at his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Avraham, take pity on me, and send El‘azar just to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, because I’m in agony in this fire!’ 25 However, Avraham said, ‘Son, remember that when you were alive, you got the good things while he got the bad; but now he gets his consolation here, while you are the one in agony. 26 Yet that isn’t all: between you and us a deep rift has been established, so that those who would like to pass from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house, 28 where I have five brothers, to warn them; so that they may be spared having to come to this place of torment too.’ 29 But Avraham said, ‘They have Moshe and the Prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 However, he said, ‘No, father Avraham, they need more. If someone from the dead goes to them, they’ll repent!’ 31 But he replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moshe and the Prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!’” Matthew 16:19-31 CJV
What does this tell us? Has the point been driven home yet? It does not matter what you have physically, God wants you to be humble. In the Beatitudes Jesus says that the poor in spirit are blessed. He is speaking of those who are humble in their ways, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
When we come to God in prayer, we need to understand our own sin, our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We cannot be self-satisfied or have proud hearts, thinking we don’t really need God for successful living. Staying humble and being dependent on the Spirit for our success is more pleasing to God than how much money or stuff we have.