The Tithing Trap

Tithing Legalism Exposed

The Bible and the Tithe

By Grantley Morris

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    Despite the New Testament saying so much about money, its only mention of tithing is in citing the Old Testament to make a point that has nothing to do with money (Hebrews 7) and reference in the Gospels to what the Pharisees did. I would be negligent not to point out, however, that even though Jesus emphasized that God wants so much more than a mere tithe, he upheld the Pharisees’ tithing:

      Matthew 23:23 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

    Not many pastors slip into their sermons this little tidbit: the Pharisees, who were legendary at tithing, are the very ones the Bible labels as being lovers of money (Luke 16:14).

    A tithe is literally one tenth. The description of the tithe, however, seems to vary from passage to passage in the Old Testament. As a result, there were Jews in Jesus’ time who understood this as indicating different tithes. Consequently, some believed the law required them to give two tithes and some even believed it required three tithes.

    Moreover, the Old Testament stresses not just tithes but, in addition, giving offerings:

      Malachi 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.”

      Deuteronomy 12:6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.

    The tithes were given primarily to the priests and Levites, not to the poor:

      Numbers 18:21 I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.

      Numbers 18:24  . . . I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. . . .

    Although there is this Scripture:

      Deuteronomy 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

    In addition to tithes and offerings to the Lord, however, the Old Testament strongly emphasized giving to the poor. Here is just a small sample:

      Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

      Job 31:16-23 If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless – but from my youth I reared him as would a father, and from my birth I guided the widow – if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment, and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

      Psalms 112: 5,9 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely . . . He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor

      Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

      Proverbs 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

      Proverbs 21:13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

      Proverbs 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

      Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

      Isaiah 58:6,7,10 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: . . . Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? . . . and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

      Ezekiel 16:49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

    The rich young ruler, who had devoutly kept the law since he was boy (Luke 18:21) would surely, in the light of all of the above, have already been giving far beyond a tenth. Like the Pharisees who tithed and were lovers of money, however, this earnest young man still had an idolatrous love affair with money. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” he asked. “You still lack one thing,” Jesus replied. “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:18,21).

    Many of us fall into the clearly unscriptural trap of presuming that by giving God one tenth of our finances we meet our spiritual financial obligations. Neither does tithing free us from the love of money.

    Let’s craft a very brief overview of the New Testament’s teaching on giving, starting with John the Baptist. Anointed prophet, John the Baptist, was divinely ordained for the critical role of preparing people’s hearts for their Messiah’s long-awaited coming. Many of John’s disciples and followers ended up close to Jesus. For example, Andrew, a partner with James and John in their fishing business (Luke 5:10), had been one of the Baptist’s disciples. It was Andrew who introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1:35-42).

    Did you realize that the Gospels use precisely the same words to describe the essence of the Baptist’s message as it does for Jesus’ message?

      Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

      Matthew 4:12,17 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. . . . From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

    Below is among the most detailed examples we have of John’s ministry. See if you see what I do:

      Luke 3:9-14 “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
            “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
            John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
            Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
            “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
            Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.”

    Three different classes of people asked John the Baptist what they must do to avoid the judgment of God. To every group, the Baptist zeroed in on money and possessions.

    Jesus, too, kept focusing on this

      Matthew 25:31-35,40 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    Not only did Jesus by very many different means keep telling people to sell everything and give it to the poor, everyone in the early Jerusalem church surrendered everything and held it in common:

      Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

    Filled with the love of God, the mere sight of fellow believers with needs greater than their own was apparently all it took to motivate this sacrifice. See if anything strikes you about this account:

      Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

    Did you notice that smack in the middle of describing their unity and attitude to finances are the words, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all”? It seems the inspired writer saw – and wanted us to see – a strong connection between their selfless attitude toward material possessions and the power that was upon the apostles and the grace that was on them all. From there, Luke launched immediately into telling us of Ananias and Sapphira, who sold their property and gave so much of the proceeds that they expected everyone to think it was the full amount. God regarded this seemingly minor financial deception as such a threat to the special things that were happening in the early church, that he struck Ananias and Sapphira dead.

    As the church grew, this concept of selfless sharing of one’s resources widened even further:

      Acts 11:28-30  . . . Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. . . . The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

    Finally, as expounded in the previous webpage, the apostle Paul took this sharing even further by going to great lengths to urge Gentile Christians to give sacrificially to financially support the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The divinely inspired apostle did this because he yearned not merely for a material equality between Christians on a local level but – even more daring – worldwide:

      2 Corinthians 8:13-14 Our desire is . . . that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they [Christians in Jerusalem] need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality

    In addition to giving to needy Christians, the Bible speaks of giving to assist Christian ministries:

      Matthew 10:41-42 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

      Romans 16:1-2 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

      1 Corinthians 9:14 . . . the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

      Galatians 6:6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

      Philippians 4:16-18 . . . you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

      3 John 1:5-8 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.

    Certain people, because of the nature of their calling, might need more resources than some others, but no ministry should enrich itself at the expense of those who have less:

      2 Corinthians 8:13  . . . not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.

    Anyone worthy of a role in ministry is:

      1 Timothy 3:3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

    Have you considered what an astounding privilege it is to give gifts to the Lord? Only because of his great love for us does the Owner of the universe accept and appreciate our gifts. He, of course, lacks nothing, and anything we could give belongs to him anyway:

      Romans 11:35-36 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

    We can never out-give our Wonderful God!

    We should give joyfully (2 Corinthians 9:7), liberally (2 Corinthians 8:2) and out of love (1 Corinthians 13:3), because this is how our Creator has given to us (James 1:5).

    The greatest thing we can give the One who loves us with all that he has is our love. He treasures the little things we do for him, like missing a meal just so that we can spend more time alone with him. He cherishes our gifts and, obviously, the more sacrificial the gift, the more precious it is to him. A gift given as a solemn obligation (though better than none) is not nearly as pleasing to him as something given joyfully as an expression of love (2 Corinthians 9:7). Chapters eight and nine of Second Corinthians – devoted to discussing the offering being collected for the needy Christians in Jerusalem – are so crammed with valuable insights into the spiritual principles of giving that I urge you to prayerfully read it all. Here is just a sample:

      2 Corinthians 9:12-14 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

    Add to this the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). To this total, add the effect that a world-wide display of love and unity would have upon unbelievers:

      John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

      John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

    As we bring together all these factors it becomes obvious that if God really wanted to bless the church, he would create within it an unequal distribution of wealth. An immense flood of prayer, praise, love, joy, provision, and blessing would then result from the equalization of this wealth.

    A great, world-wide inequality among Christians does indeed exist. It is up to you and me in the rich countries to create such a flow of finance to our needy brothers and sisters that God will be glorified and the whole world will sit up and take notice.

    Instead of going to war with his troops, King David lived in ease and ended up in serious moral squalor by getting Uriah’s wife pregnant. In contrast to David’s shame, the honorable Uriah epitomizes the solidarity we should show with the large numbers of God’s people in third world countries who are living a far more austere life than us. We take up the story when David had Uriah brought back from the front line:

      2 Samuel 11:8-13 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.
              When David was told, “Uriah did not go home,” he asked him, “Haven’t you just come from a distance? Why didn’t you go home?”
              Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
              Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next.
              At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

    By citing Uriah’s identification with those of God’s people who are deprived of physical luxuries, I am not concocting some theory. Here is it is in black and white:

      Hebrews 12:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

      Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

      1 Corinthians 12:26 If one part [of the body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it . . .

    It might seem that you can hardly “make ends meet” now, but God has promised to take care of all your financial needs when you give sacrificially to him (Matthew 6:31-33; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Philippians 4:15-19). And if you already have sufficient, remember that God has prospered you so that you may give to others (2 Corinthians 9:8,11).

    Of course, there is nothing basically wrong with money or material possessions, but we must face the realities of life. There are people dying of physical and spiritual starvation who could be saved if we gave them some of our money instead of spending it on ourselves.

    The really “rich” people are those who have discovered the joy of giving.

      Proverbs 11:24-26,28 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.  . . . Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

    The poor people (whatever the size of their bank balance) are those who are spiritually bankrupt. They are never content with what they have. They are ceaselessly craving for more.

    Always be willing to obey inner urges to give money, but first ask God, to ensure that the desire is really from him. Although the recipient of the money will be human, you are right in regarding it as a personal gift to God:

      Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

      Proverbs 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

      Matthew 25:40 The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    Remember how one boy’s lunch fed a huge crowd (John 6:1-13). If the lad had ignored Jesus, and tried to meet the great need himself, very little would have been accomplished. A miracle occurred and the great need was met because the boy first offered his gift to Jesus. So tell Jesus that you are giving the gift to him (even though it is also given to a human agency) and ask him to bless and multiply it. God can then use your small gift to meet some of the great needs in this world.

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    Promised Provision

    We noted in the previous webpage that just before declaring, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) Paul spoke of being sometimes hungry and in want.

    How did these two statements end up in the same chapter? Are we right to see them as contradictory? What made the inspired apostle think they fit together?

    I believe the key lies in the vast difference between needs – which the promise is all about – and wants.

    Let’s remind ourselves of the context in which Jesus promised material provision:

      Matthew 6:31,33 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    The promise is for the most basic of human needs: food and clothing.

    From the day of Pentecost onwards, how many biblical examples of miraculous material provision come to mind? For insight into what divine material provision might entail, I am forced to delve into the Old Testament. In the previous webpage we looked at the miraculous provision of manna that sustained the Israelites in the wilderness and yet became so dull that, rather than supplying all their wants, it drove them to anger and became a source of bitter complaint.

    Here’s another example of divine provision:

      Deuteronomy 29:5 During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

    As amazing as that is, how thrilled would you be about wearing the same clothes for forty years?

    Let’s move on to an astounding series of miracles of provision experienced by a powerful prophet of God. We must take careful note of it as it is among the very few examples of miraculous provision that Father God has carefully preserved in his Word to instruct his children.

    The Lord told Elijah to prophesy a drought. This made him so unpopular that God told him to hide (1 Kings 17:3) in a ravine where:

      1 Kings 17:6-7 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

    This miracle involved not milk, soda pop, fruit juices or coffee but drinking from a waterhole that gradually shrank, growing muddier and more putrid by the day. Moreover, this astounding act of God meant being fed by ravens – ceremonially unclean birds that regularly feed off animal carcasses left to rot in the dirt. This diet wore on day after day after day until finally the water dried up completely.

    But the miracles of provision kept coming. In those days, men were meant to be the providers but the next miracle required not just the humiliation of financial dependence upon a woman but having to ask a starving heathen woman to share with him her last meal:

      1 Kings 17:8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “Go at once to [the non-Israelite town of] Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”
            So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
            “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.”
          .  Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’”
            She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.

    The miracles kept coming but the meat supply had dried up. He was down to flour and oil, day after dreary day.

    Finally, Elijah faced his enemies in a spectacularly supernatural display on Mount Carmel in which fire from a cloudless sky burnt up the water-soaked sacrifice.

    Now, even more than before, Elijah’s steadfast commitment to God had rendered him a fugitive. He was again on the run; forced to hide from the highest authorities in the land. Here is his next miraculous provision:

      1 Kings 19:5-7 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
            He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
            The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”

    Bread and water, followed by bread and water; supernatural, but hardly scrumptious. Worse was to follow. Here’s the next miracle:

      1 Kings 19:8 . . . Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights . . .

    He was not just on an enforced fast, he was burning up calories as he journeyed. Another stupendous act of God, but hardly a pleasant one. We are not told whether his stomach began to feel uncomfortably empty and he daydreamed of food as he plodded on, or whether he was supernaturally kept from feeling hungry. All we know is that he survived and at the end of his foodless forty day journey he had a life-changing encounter with God.

    So yes, being hungry and in want, as spoken of by Paul, can indeed be linked with God supplying all our needs.

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    Paul or Modern Apostles?

    Over and over, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, urged his readers to pattern their lives on him (Scriptures).

    Let’s see the example he set:

      Acts 20:33-34 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

      1 Corinthians 4:11-12 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands.

      1 Corinthians 9:1,4,6,12,15-19,23,27,10:1-6,33 . . . Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? . . . Don’t we have the right to food and drink? . . . Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? . . . If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. . . .
                  But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.
            Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. . . . I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. . . .
            No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (10:1) For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. . . .
            even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

      2 Corinthians 11:7,9 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? . . . And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone . . . I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.

      2 Corinthians 12:14-18 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. . . . I have not been a burden to you. . . . Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you? I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?

      1 Thessalonians 2:9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

      2 Thessalonians 3:8-9 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.

    Among all the Christians who are materially richer than me, very many must also be spiritually richer than me. So I am not worthy to pose the following questions. Nevertheless, before we can accept prosperity doctrine there are uncomfortable questions that must be faced:

      Do preachers who live in material prosperity do so because they are more blessed than Paul or because they fleece their flock more than Paul?

      Do they preach prosperity doctrine because it is biblical or because, like the tithing, Bible-quoting Pharisees, they are lovers of money?

      Is their teaching popular because they have found a new spiritual truth or because we live in the era prophesied by Paul?

        2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    I do not pretend to be worthy to polish the shoes of many who preach material prosperity. Nevertheless, it is not to them but to the Author of the Word of God that we must ultimately give account.

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    Distilling the Truth

    Let’s bring together what we have learned in this and the previous webpage.

      Psalm 127:1 . . . Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. . . .

    The Bible divides humanity into two camps: not those who labor versus those who receive without hard work, but those who labor in vain versus those whose hard work counts. There are those whose labor ends up wasted because it was attempted without God and those whose work ends up being of value because they labored in submission to God.

      1 Corinthians 15:58 . . . Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

    Yes, Scripture does identify a third category: those who are lazy. But no one need wait for Judgment Day to know that they are non-achievers who waste their lives. They can expect to enter eternity with the words, “You wicked, lazy servant!” ringing in his/her ears, “ . . . throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26,30). I’d like to put that gentler, but these are the words of Jesus, whose love for humanity spectacularly outclasses mine and who knows the human heart and eternal realities infinitely better than me.

    Over and over, the Bible keeps repeating that God hates laziness and that laziness leads to poverty. Such is the abundance of Scriptures about this that despite all I quoted in the previous webpage, here are examples of Scriptures I haven’t cited:

      1 Thessalonians 5:14 . . . warn those who are idle . . .

      Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

      Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

      Proverbs 19:15 Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless [i.e. lazy] man goes hungry.

      Ecclesiastes 10:18 If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.

    This does not mean, however, that people devoted to God and hard work will never face severe financial challenges and loss.

    We know that Job, of whom God was so proud, lost everything for a period. By continuing to praise and honor God, he squashed the devil’s malicious accusation that Job was the most godly man of his era only because God kept protecting him and lavishing him with material prosperity.

    The great apostle Paul, who worked so hard and whose devotion to God was outstanding, endured times of want so severe that he went hungry. His faith caused him to move so much in the supernatural that he found contentment in the midst of this deprivation. That’s a miracle to rival the most outstanding examples of miraculous provision.

    I am reminded of the famous Faith Chapter (Hebrews 11) describing many faith heroes who experienced miraculous deliverances from danger and yet the chapter continues by hailing as equally powerful examples those whose faith empowered them to live in poverty, dressed “in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute,” wandering “in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” Some were even tortured to death (Hebrews 11:35-39).

    Perhaps it is noteworthy that in that long chapter devoted to what faith can achieve, the only mention of wealth is in relinquishing it for Christ’s sake:

      Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

    If modern preachers had been allowed to write this part of the Bible, they might have said, “By faith Abraham became rich.” And there would have been a degree of accuracy in that statement. Nevertheless, Scripture takes the exact opposite approach, emphasizing that “By faith . . . he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob . . .” (Hebrews 11:9). The Bible’s goal is to inspire godliness, not incite greed:

      Psalm 19:9-10 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold . . .

      Psalms 119:127 . . . I love your commands more than gold . . .

      Proverbs 8:10-11 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

      Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

      Proverbs 28:6 Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse.

    Some might put in their version of the Faith Chapter, “By faith Solomon became the richest man on the planet,” but the truth is rather different. Not only did Solomon not believe God for riches, it was precisely because he refused to ask for riches, that he was granted wealth:

      2 Chronicles 1:11-12 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

    Likewise, modern faith-preachers might be tempted to add, “Through faith Job became rich,” but Job would not have rated a mention in God’s Word except for the faith that empowered him to remain steadfastly devoted to God in the midst of devastating illness, bereavement and financial ruin.

    Appealing to people’s baser nature will always prove popular but it is a temptation that preachers must steadfastly resist. Paul prophesies what will characterize people in the last days:

      2 Timothy 3:1-4 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,  . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

    He then goes on to warn:

      2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    James highlights the danger facing all who seek to teach the Word of God:

      James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

    There are fakes everywhere but anyone whose faith is genuine yearns to increase in godliness. For real Christians, trials are blessings to be rejoiced in because hard times end up producing godly character.

      Romans 5:3-4  . . . we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

      James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

    Our loving Lord treats us not with bland sameness but as distinct individuals with unique missions. We are looking at finances, but since this principle extends way beyond finances, let’s, for illustration purposes, see how it applies to marriage. As mentioned in the previous webpage, God led me to grow in sensitivity, compassion and devotion to Christ by asking me to voluntarily suffer the seemingly endless torment of being single for over half a century. Hour after hour, week after week, decade after decade, I felt a hideous freak, a laughing stock and a reject, with a loneliness and gnawing emptiness that not even intimacy with God seemed to fill. This clashes with modern “feel good” Christianity as much as Jesus telling us to deny ourselves and take up our cross, but it was God’s leading, nonetheless. As I inwardly writhed in agony for what seemed forever, I frequently wished I had never been born and yet I rejoice, and I will spend all eternity praising God for what that torturous trial achieved in my spiritual life.

    For someone else, the never-ending process of growing more like Christ might come about through decades of remaining faithful to a cruelly selfish marriage partner. For other people, the challenge might be to keep growing in Christ despite the tendency toward spiritual complacency that comes with a good marriage.

    Like a happy marriage, material prosperity brings spiritual danger:

      Deuteronomy 6:10-12 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

      Deuteronomy 8:10-14 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God

      Proverbs 30:8-9  . . . give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you . . .

    The grass always seems greener in the other field and James reminds us that we all suffer an inbuilt tendency to envy. To this add God treating each of us uniquely and we end up sorely tempted to the blasphemous presumption that God is unfair and does not love us equally. At the end of this webpage is a link to a series of pages in which I explode this fallacy. Assessing things on the basis of our present life is like judging a movie by the first ten seconds. We are hurtling toward an eternity in which God abundantly compensates, rewards and reverses earthly experiences. Remember Jesus’ chilling warning to those who seemed godly and were the envy of many: they have their reward already (Matthew 6:2,5,16; Luke 6:24). Rather than have us look for a reward in this life, he said:

      Luke 14:12-14  . . . “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

    If it were wise and loving to lavish an alcoholic with lorry loads of the world’s finest alcoholic beverages, it might be appropriate for the Fount of all love and wisdom to pamper our addiction to material things, enabling us to fix our minds on earthly things, spiritually impoverish ourselves, and squander our eternal reward.

    Jesus kept begging us to ask him for things. For example:

      John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

    Let’s not grieve our Holy Lord, however, by twisting his words into something contrary to his heart. Just earlier, in the same dissertation, Jesus had used the same expression used here about one’s joy being “complete”:

      John 15:7,10-13 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. . . . If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

    This makes it clear that for Jesus, asking “whatever you wish, and it will be given you,” hinges on being in spiritual harmony with our Lord (remaining or abiding in him), taking his words to heart, and obeying him. Moreover, we see from the above that the key command that Jesus emphasized when telling us to ask is that we be driven by such love for others that we would selflessly sacrifice everything for them, just as Jesus did. This is hardly consistent with greed, against which Jesus warned:

      Luke 12:15  . . . “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed . . .

    Does anyone really expect Jesus to denounce greed as a grave spiritual danger and then invite us to pray for things to satisfy our greed? Jesus told us to not be like “the pagans [who] run after all these things,” but to “seek first” God’s kingdom and his righteousness, (Matthew 6:32-33) and to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). The desire for righteousness should be our single-minded passion – our obsession. No wonder James wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask God,” and then corrected himself, telling them they ask but instead of asking for godly things as Jesus intended, they “ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures,” (James 4:2-3).

    At least seven times, the New Testament specifically lists greed as being as anti-God and as spiritually damming as sexual immorality:

      1 Corinthians 5:11  . . . you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy . . . With such a man do not even eat.

      1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor . . . adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders . . . nor the greedy will inherit the kingdom of God.

      Ephesians 5:3,5 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

      Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed . . .

      Mark 7:21-22 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

      Romans 1:26-27,29 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. . . . They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.

      2 Peter 2:14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed – an accursed brood!

    Logically, then, only if someone could convince God that pedophiles should claim Scriptures, praying with faith in Jesus’ name for new victims, might we possibly get somewhere by asking the Holy Lord to indulge our greed. Otherwise, here’s a biblical truth to name and claim:

      Proverbs 1:28-30 Then they will call to me but I will not answer . . . Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD . . .

      Proverbs 21:13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

      Isaiah 1:15-16 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.  . . . Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong

      Isaiah 59:2  . . . your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

      Isaiah 57:17 I was enraged by his sinful greed; I punished him, and hid my face in anger . . .

      Jeremiah 11:10-11 They have returned to the sins of their forefathers, who refused to listen to my words. . . . Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘ . . . Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. . . .’

      Jeremiah 14:12 Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry . . .

      Ezekiel 8:18  . . . Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.

      John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.

      More such Scriptures

    So James was saying nothing revolutionary when he implied that harboring sin in our hearts sabotages prayer. On the contrary, he was merely contributing to a strong biblical theme:

      Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened

      John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

      1 John 3:21-22 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

      1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

      James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

      Proverbs 28:9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.

    Just minutes after urging us to ask so that our joy may be complete, Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweated over the temptation to abuse prayer by seeking his own comfort. He could have asked for legions of angels to rescue him and God would have granted his request (Matthew 26: 53). Instead, just as he had always taught his followers to do, he denied himself and committed to God’s way (Matthew 26:42), which meant unspeakable agony followed by unfathomable joy.

      Mark 8:34,36 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. . . . What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? . . .”

      Hebrews 12:1-2  . . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame . . .

    This horrific temptation in the garden, near the climax of Jesus’ earthly ministry, was reminiscent of the temptation at the commencement of his ministry: to exploit his sonship with God to meet his own cravings for food. When I was young and did not understand fasting, I used to smile to myself when reading, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry” (Matthew 4:2). I used to think the reference to hunger was merely stating – or understating – the obvious. I now know, however, that during a long fast one is hungry for a while but the body adjusts and little hunger is felt as the body feeds off its reserves. I’m told that when hunger returns, however, the situation has turned serious; bodily reserves have been used up and the only option is for the body to commence consuming vital parts of itself. It was at this point that Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread, but Jesus mustered the strength to deny himself and not pray to be provided with what his body craved.

    God’s priority is that we become like his Holy Son, the Lord of Glory who sacrificed all. This is the path to eternal honor and endless joy.

    It is tragic how many of us break God’s heart and put him in virtually no-win situations by telling ourselves that God does not love us, that we have no faith, that Christianity doesn’t work, or some other ridiculous accusation, unless God continually inflames our addiction to worldly things by answering selfish, short-sighted prayers.

    Jesus longs for our joy to be “complete.” We might laugh at a junkie who interprets that statement to mean an endless supply of heroin, but let’s be wary of becoming so addicted to materialism that we misinterpret Jesus’ words as an invitation to keep feeding our greed.

    Remember Scripture’s terrifying warning:

      1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

    We have seen from Paul’s deep experience that true Christian joy has nothing to do with ease or material comfort. And this was not just some quirk of Paul’s. James told us to “consider it pure joy” when we suffered trials (James 1:2) and Peter urged us to “rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13). Indeed, all of the apostles, after being flogged, left “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” of Jesus (Acts 5:41).

    The intensity of the Almighty’s love for us far exceeds what any human is capable of imitating. Of course the Almighty could protect himself from pain by closing off his heart but he refuses to do so. Despite his omnipotence, he allows the inconceivable immensity of his love to render himself emotionally vulnerable, just as even lesser lovers do. He who owns the universe aches for your love. He longs for your praise, for example, not because the One who gave his all for you is egocentric, nor because the endless efforts of countless myriads of angels are wearing thin, but because – as demonstrated in the Song of Solomon – lovers praise each other and delight in verbally expressing their love. He pines for your obedience, not because he could not make more obedient robots, but because lovers long to help each other and to do what pleases the other. The Almighty craves your companionship.

    Sadly, many of us grieve the God who yearns for our love by treating him like an unfeeling poker machine; hoping that if we feed in enough prayer and faith we will win some money. We cannot depersonalize our Maker, however, without dehumanizing ourselves. Anyone treating God like a machine is like someone who turns his heart to stone, refusing to love, and trying instead to claw emotional satisfaction from objects.

    Appallingly many of us are like a passionately loved wife who keeps breaking her husband’s heart by her coldness because she married him for his money. Instead of reveling in the glory of God’s love and the matchless beauty and wonder of who he is, we lust after trinkets that can never fill the God-shaped void within us. The real treasure lies not in his gifts but in the Giver himself.

    If we miss the big picture we will end up continually fighting God and not even realize it. Whereas God longs for us to sacrifice earthly comfort to store up heavenly treasure that we can never lose, we think he should be helping us accumulate earthly treasure that we can never keep. His infinite wisdom declares, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), but we think the all-knowing Lord should realize he is wrong and that the opposite is true. God’s agenda is not to make his beloved children spoiled brats who shame themselves but to make us exquisitely perfect like his eternal Son. This is so much God’s focus that he guides everything toward that end:

      Romans 8:28-29 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son . . .

      Philippians 2:5-8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who . . . humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

      2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

    The eternal glory of Christlike beauty comes neither instantly, nor effortlessly:

      Romans 13:13-14 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

      Galatians 4:19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you

      Hebrews 5:8-9 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect . . .

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    Wrap Up

    In this and the previous webpage we have flown over a large number of Scriptures as we have crisscrossed the Bible, scanning the surface on a hunt for clues about a vast biblical topic. We have certainly not plumbed the depths, but the sheer quantity of Scriptures highlights how important it is to God that we grasp his heart on this matter.

    Even for me, the writer, this Bible exploration has taken some unexpected turns. The result stands in stark contrast to the uplifting webpages I usually craft and it raises more questions than it answers. Nevertheless, this webpage is really about joy. Someone wisely said, “Happiness depends on happenings. Joy depends on Jesus.” One of the greatest threats to endless joy is an addiction to temporal things, such as money and possessions. If they are our source of happiness and/or security, then Jesus is not. And when they are stripped from us, as they inevitably will – either at death or before – what will be left?

    We have seen that faith is no alternative to hard work. On the other hand, being hard working does not mean one has earned the right to have money and certainly not the right to keep any of it. Any money God lets us spend on ourselves is always undeserved. Neither can the rich pride themselves in having worked harder than the poor. Often the affluent just happen to have had higher paying jobs and/or rip off more people than those in lower paying jobs whose efforts make rich those who exploit them. Neither can the affluent claim to be godlier than the poor or that God favors them over those who have less. On the contrary, in Jesus’ parable it was Lazarus the beggar who ended up in heaven and the rich man had the torturous afterlife (Luke 16:19-31), as was also the case with the prosperous farmer who was planning bigger barns for his bumper crop (Luke 12:16-21). In fact, Jesus warned:

      Luke 18:25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

    Our Lord kept insisting that there will be many startling reversals in the next life. For example:

      Luke 6:24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

      Luke 16:25 . . . Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.

      Matthew 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

    It was prophesied of the coming of the Messiah:

      Luke 1:53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

    Likewise James wrote:

      James 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

      James 5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

    He had a low opinion of the rich:

      James 2:6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?

    We must never forget that God delights in blessing his children but I suggest something is seriously wrong if we view as a significant blessing the very things that mesmerize non-Christians. In fact, Jesus kept telling people to sell everything and give it to the poor, everyone in the early Jerusalem church surrendered everything and held it in common, and Paul expended great effort in urging Christians living in richer locations to give so abundantly to those in poorer countries that there might be a material equality among Christians worldwide.

    Monkeys are captured by placing food behind a narrow opening. By grabbing the food they form a fist that is bigger than the opening. They are trapped solely because of their refusal to let go. If we don’t let go of temporal things now, we will find ourselves still clinging to them on Judgment Day when all that is temporal is thrown into the fire.

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    WARNING: I’m Imbalanced

    The above heading is deliberately worded to grab your attention because what I am about to say is of extreme importance, even though admitting what I am about to say is as unfashionable as this entire webpage.

    As much as I would love to grasp God’s full biblical revelation about finances, doing so remains my elusive dream. It is my conviction that only a tiny few people have ever had the courage, humility, intimacy with God and depth of understanding to embrace the full biblical revelation of God on any subject. We are much more prone to become infatuated with fragments of truth and end up with a distorted view. Regrettably, I am likely to have done this very thing in my attempt to explore this topic. I strongly sense I have presented an unbalanced view, even though I currently feel incapable of improving on what I have presented. (For more about the limits to my spiritual understanding, see My Shame.) It is my hope that you will do better than me in plumbing the depths of Scriptural revelation on this vast topic. (To do so you must use all the principles explained in The Spiritual Essentials for Accurate Bible Interpretation and the pages it leads to.) All I know is that a full understanding of the infinite Lord’s heart for our finances must include all the Scriptures I have cited.

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    Post Script

    Long after writing the above I discovered a significant book. In the seventies and eighties, Jim Bakker was one of the world’s most famous and influential Christians. The television host and founder of the huge PTL television network and the amazing Heritage USA Christian theme park, he built and headed an organization that employed nearly three thousand people. Proud to have his message dubbed the prosperity gospel, he passionately believed and lived it. After his world came crushing down, he had an unforgettable dream that told him he needed to see everything through Jesus’ eyes. This led to a prolonged and intensive Bible study that reluctantly brought Bakker to the devastating conclusion that, despite his sincerity, by emphasizing prosperity, he had been so distorting the Word of God as to be leading people astray by preaching a false gospel. That might seem extreme, but a humbled and deeply repentant Jim Bakker builds a powerful case in his book, I was wrong. It makes sobering reading. For an overview, see Jim Bakker: “I Was Wrong” Book Review & Spiritual Insights.

    The following links are particularly recommended.

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    Related Links

    The Previous Webpage: Forgotten Christian Secrets of Prosperity

    Faith for Finances

    Satisfied: The Christianity that Most Christians have Missed

    Tips on Saving Money

    Spiritual Secrets: Dying to Self Explained

    God Isn’t fair?

    The Joy of Unanswered Prayer

    The Spiritual Essentials For Accurate Bible Interpretation

    © 2011, Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.

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