“May Your Money Perish With You”

Christians the world over say they want to be like Jesus. But do they really? Sometimes I have to wonder – at least about Western Christians. They seem to be so very selective about what they read and emphasise in Scripture. Picking some bits and leaving out other bits – cafeteria style – seems to be how so many Western believers operate nowadays.

Consider the issue of money and wealth. The Bible from cover to cover warns about riches, and Jesus himself spoke about this matter constantly. It was one of the chief issues he spoke about, yet most Western Christians act as if he never said a word on this subject.

When Jesus spoke about the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Matthew 13:22) he actually meant it. Wealth can so very easily deceive us and entangle us. When Jesus said “Woe to you who are rich” (Luke 6:24) he was not joking – he was deadly serious.

osteen 8When Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Mark 10:21) he was not making a mere suggestion. He was being honest and forthright with the ruler. And his words apply to all of us as well.

As I have written so often before, riches are a blessing of God – if used for his Kingdom purposes. But they become a curse of God if consumed on our own selfish lusts. Working hard, making wealth, and saving – these are all perfectly good things. But what we do with that money is quite another matter.

Individual Christians must ever be scrupulous in money matters. The “love of money is a root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and far too many Christians love money – it is that simple. So we must be very cautious here. But so too must all churches, Christian ministries, leaders and pastors.

Every church must be open and transparent about money matters, and must be fully accountable. If not, trouble is bound to happen. And we see this occurring far too often. One financial scandal after another rocks the church, and we drag the name of our Lord in the mud every time it happens.

I was just in Singapore when this once again took place. The front page headline appeared for all the world to see. What a damning indictment on a major evangelical church. Six leaders were sentenced to from 21 months to eight years in prison.

Financial mismanagement and various sorts of shady dealings and misleading practices were the findings of the court. How this can happen when we have one warning after another in Scripture is just mind-boggling. Consider what Jesus said in Luke 16:10-12:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”

It seems that the court has declared that these church leaders have been found guilty of ‘not being trustworthy with someone else’s property’ – in this case the finances of the church given by church members. How could this have happened? Why was there no openness and accountability?

How was such a culture of hyper-wealth and dodgy dealings allowed to develop here? Do the teachings of Jesus mean so little to the hyper-rich churches of the West? When someone wanted to get money for a spiritual gift, Peter forcefully answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20).

Those who deal in the work of the Lord should know better. But it seems plenty of Christians are just as greedy for wealth and the good life as are pagans. No wonder no one is interested in our faith when we are just as covetous, money-hungry and materialistic as the worldlings are.

As it happened, while I was in Singapore, I was given a tour of the wealthiest part of town. There the mega-mansion of the pastor who had just been given eight years in jail was pointed out to me – an incredible seaside luxury resort. When I expressed my incredulity about this, I was told that some folks in the church had given it to him.

So is that good enough? Live like a Hollywood celeb in a world of need because some church folks insist you live there? Sorry, but even though I will never be in this position, if I were, I would have said this: “Thanks very much for the kind offer, but if you really insist that I receive this mansion, then allow me to do with it as I feel led to. Let me sell it, and use the multi-millions to feed masses of starving Africans for a number of years. That would be far better stewardship.”

Indeed, an Indian-Australian friend just told me of a story he heard when he was in Indonesia. An Indonesian pastor had a similar thing happen to him. One day when he was out a millionaire from his church stopped by and gave the pastor’s wife the keys to a very fancy and very expensive car.

When the pastor came home, he asked his wife what was going on. He said, ‘I cannot receive this car. Most of my church members do not even have a car – how can I own this fancy car when they are in so much need?’ Now that is the attitude of a genuine shepherd of the flock of God.

We have been utterly deceived by riches in the West, and the church is as full of greedy, self-centred idolaters as is the world. This is utterly shameful. I for one am glad God is bringing a real shaking and sifting to the churches. It is time to weed out those who do not have Jesus Christ as their one and sole love.

All the worldly, carnal and compromised believers will be shown up for who they really are. And God does not mind in the least using worldly law courts to help make all this happen. And of course it is not just Singaporean churches that can be mentioned here. Consider this news item, in which an Australian church leader has also been shamed by the secular courts:

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston failed to tell police his father was a self-confessed child abuser and had a clear conflict of interest in dealing with the sex claims himself, an inquiry has found. The high profile pastor gave evidence to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in October last year.
In a report released on Monday, the commissioners found that Mr Houston and the church’s executive team failed the victim, known as AHA, who was molested by Frank Houston for a number of years from the age of seven.
When the allegations surfaced almost 30 years later in 1999, Mr Houston confronted his father, who admitted abusing AHA. The commissioners found that Brian Houston, then national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia, did not inform authorities.

In both of these cases God has allowed the world to pass judgment, since most Christians it seems prefer to keep silent. This my friends ought not to be. Peter made it absolutely clear that judgment must begin with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).

Many have said about both cases that we must be forgiving, show mercy, and not condemn. Sure, but that is by no means the end of the matter. We must always remember that God has gifted us with various institutions to deal with life in this world.

The church deals with sin, forgiveness and mercy (where applicable – but church discipline and rebuke are also vital), while the state deals with justice, crime, and punishment. Both institutions have been ordained by God and both have a crucial role to play in a fallen world.

We may choose to forgive a wayward church leader. But that does not mean the state no longer has responsibilities in these cases. When criminal activities have taken place, then the churches just cannot cover things up, and pretend that a bit of forgiveness makes everything peachy.

When children have been abused or money misappropriated, these are also criminal matters that must be properly dealt with. So yes, we can and should pray for all church leaders found guilty of not just various sins but also of various crimes.

However we must allow justice to take place as well. If the church will not do its job, then the state must take over and make sure that wrongdoing is exposed and properly dealt with. It is a real pity our churches are so careless or so apathetic that we even get to the place where any criminal investigations have to take place.

As I say, all this is a horrible tarnish and stain on not just the church, but above all on our Lord Jesus Christ. However, God will not tolerate this forever. He must act to vindicate his name and preserve his glory. If we have so little concern for Christ and his reputation, then God will act. He must.

And that he is now doing. He wants to present to Christ a bride who is spotless and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27). So he is shaking his Body to purify it and to separate the wheat from the tares. And not a moment too soon. Let me conclude with the sobering words of Hebrews 12:25-29:

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken – that is, things that have been made – in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/city-harvest-trial-kong-hee-and-church-leaders-back-in-court-on-friday-for
www.smh.com.au/nsw/royal-commission-sex-abuse-inquiry-censures-hillsong-head-brian-houston-20151123-gl5esn.html#ixzz3sNjeGuFh

[1749 words]

16 Replies to ““May Your Money Perish With You””

  1. Hi Bill,

    good article, I agree with everything you say. I can see that the two examples you give is where clearly we can see that not only was the ‘law of the land’ broken, but more importantly, God’s moral law has not been followed.

    However your challenge to all of us, as per below, really got me thinking about myself.

    They seem to be so very selective about what they read and emphasise in Scripture. Picking some bits and leaving out other bits – cafeteria style – seems to be how so many Western believers operate nowadays.

    Consider the issue of money and wealth. The Bible from cover to cover warns about riches, and Jesus himself spoke about this matter constantly.

    I mean, how do I really know whether I’m just another Westerner who like the frog being slowly warmed up in the water I don’t recognize that my life and how I handle money, riches and possessions is a long way away from God’s standards? I guess you would say to listen to the Holy Spirit, to your conscience, to Scripture etc but our lives in the 21st century are so different (materially speaking) from the world that Jesus existed in. I know that technology and lifestyle in our day and age are very different to Jesus’ day and age so in a sense it is difficult to compare. But is that enough of a reason when I look at Scripture and my own conscience? While I am not expected some sort of personal guide from you I am interested in your observations.

    To give you something of a background, if I can use myself for the purposes of a discussion on this valid topic: we have a house that is about the average house price in my city (Auckland), our insurance covers our contents, we have one car, savings that would cover our expenses for one year. We tithe, give to Christian charities, and have no debt other than a mortgage.

    You raise an important topic so I want to give a substantive response.

    God bless,
    Matthew.

  2. Thanks Mathew. As John Wesley put it, “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”. As I have mentioned, there is nothing wrong with wealth, and a comfortable standard of living is not in itself wrong. What our attitude is to riches and what we do with our wealth is key.

  3. Dear Bill

    How many christians in Australia are really going to change the way they use money and whether to adhere to the teachings of Christ in the article you raised? I have it as a guess, not many. We live in a hedonistic and material world. Once upon a time I was a church leader in a large Pentecostal denomination who would regularly preach for more than 20 minutes per Sunday on the virtues of giving to God financially. Some people struggled to give even a tithe whilst the leaders lived lives of luxury. It’s happening all over Sydney, Melbourne and regional cities. The human heart is deceitfully wicked and to truly live the life of a disciple of Christ takes a fair amount of humility and sacrifice that few find easy to do.

  4. Unfortunately this is the latest in a long line of similar events, either misuse of church funds/fraud, or abuse of power for this group of affiliated churches. And in Houston’s case, it was a great mistake for him not to require his father to turn himself into the authorities and instead keep it hidden. To this day, that single act has proven the point for many non-Christians as to the trustworthiness of the Hillsong denomination. I had a couple of friends join and then leave the church for this very reason.

    I believe that many of these people started out as committed followers only to be swept up in the trappings of wealth and power that characterises both large and small modern Western Christianity in churches and Christian para-organisations. The sin of pride continues to wreak havoc in churches of all denominations.

    Thankfully, the vast majority of the active faithful body of Christ, represented in other countries, is alive and well and forging ahead giving their time and what little money they have, and sometimes their lives living faithfully and reaching others with the gospel of Christ, while much of Western Christianity argues semantics and rearranges deck chairs on the Titanic.

  5. An excellent article on subject not talked about nearly enough.

    “When Jesus said “Woe to you who are rich” (Luke 6:24) he was not joking – he was deadly serious.”

    I harbour no doubts at all that the statement quoted is meant especially for the western church today. How many of us realize that to be on the dole in Australia places one amongst the richest 6% of people on Earth? So many in that category still whinge that they “deserve to buy cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women”. How did we, as a nation, get here?

  6. Hello Bill

    I agree totally with what you write, some background, I came from a prosperity Gospell preaching church and was more and more disturbed and unsettled in my spirit by the bombardment of God wants all his children to be rich with material wealth and if you are not laying claim to his wealth and open heaven principle, then you are most definately living far short of kingdom living. The constant meme being that in tun you can bless others less fortunate than your profound wealth, going to CCC on Oxford falls , is the same prosperity preaching as Mr Houstons empire, in one weekend when I was there when they were buidling the new megolith there, they raised ONE MILLION in cash over two days! , I was astounded, gob smacked and they were very proud of it, frankly I saw that as totally opposite to the teaching of Jesus,[ I still feel the same way]

    As for Houstons father being a pedophile, having dealt with children who have been abused by serial abusers, I long ago have noticed that among pedophiles church leaders rank very high ( not including Catholic priests ), there was you may recall a leading Pastor and teacher convicted in WA of serial child abuse and sex ( forced ) with a underage girl , this so called Pastor is going to the big house and admitted his act was wrong, but nevertheless still went through with his depraved lustfull act, another in the long line of deviants the church is harboring coming to light, again covered up by the main stream church, I have gone off topic somewhat, but my main point is that there is very little salt I see, money and more of it is the order of the day.

    1 Timothy 6:17 :

    “Command those who are rich in this present age[ all ages ] not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy”…….

    When the stock market collapses, or the dollar dives, or our nation is defeated in war, what will you do? Does that possibility terrify you? Trust “in the living God” and you will be fine through it all. Trust in riches and you will be miserable now and at the end. Woe to us if God should say, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided”(Luke 12:20).

    The world IS changing rapidly and the stock markets WILL collapse and of course the wealth will be destroyed with it, how many see this ?

    Pslam 17;3 says……….” you have tried my heart and you hav visited me by night, you have tested me and found nothing ” how many of his children can say that ? can you ? can I ? I constantly each day ask God to search my heart and make me clean in his sight.

    This morning I read in my bible Pslam 9: 17………” The wicked shall return to sheol all the nations that forget God

    and ………from John …..”But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”(1 John 3:17).

    Being rich in good works is not the same of thinking of good things to do but failing to do them. It is not achieved by simply caring for people. Its accomplishment does not rest on wishing there was something we could do to help. In the last day, Jesus will not be impressed by our bank statement, but by whether we used His things to help His people (Matt 25:31-46). How many pass that test?

    I myself have little worth in goods and have lived a meagre life for the last 5 years, I have lived on less than 5,000 AUD , I have no home and no car and I give my time and money to the Lord,i have my clothes on my back and can walk where I need to go and I have my family that care for me, yet I see myself as rich in his name. I have taught myself to live in the forests and live simply, I do wish to serve the living God, for he alone is my fortress.

    The church will truly be shaken

    ” this warning is also for nations that turn away as well as individuals, obviously, keeping our Lords view and teaching of money and

  7. Mic 3:11 Her heads judge for a bribe, and her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for silver, yet they will lean on Jehovah and say, Is not Jehovah among us? No evil can come on us!

    Luk 16:9 And I say to you, Make friends by the mammon of unrighteousness for yourselves, so that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
    Luk 16:10 He who is faithful in the least is also faithful in much. And he who is unjust in the least is also unjust in much.
    Luk 16:11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?
    Luk 16:12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
    Luk 16:13 No servant can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
    Luk 16:14 And being money-lovers, all the Pharisees also heard all these things. And they derided Him.
    Luk 16:15 And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

    Heb_13:5 Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be content with such things as you have, for He has said, “Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I forsake you, never!”

    (MKJV)

  8. What doth the LORD require of you but to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. To my mind this corruption, vile affection and reprobate action you describe Bill, all goes back to a failure in ‘the church’ to really address sin.

    Sin of course is walking in unrighteousness. How do we individually, as family members, as congregational leaders and members, and as members of nations walk in righteousness ? Well first you need to know what righteousness is, what it looks like, tastes like, feels like and smells like. I like what Chris Potter says here.

    The only place to find what God requires of us in in His Word, in Prayer and Fasting and by His divine revelation. With regard to his Word I believe we need to seriously revisit the Old Testament and particularly the first five books of the Torah when God lays out his “instructions in righteousness”. The modern church it seems to me has become so focused on salvation (on which it doesn’t seem to be very effective anyway) and has almost totally failed to be focused on living holy.

    I want to live holy how about you ? How do you instruct people to live holy ? Now there is a question.

  9. And what of church systemic corruption. I have heard that religious orders get their cars tax free and claim rent allowance for those old priests living in monasteries that they (the religious trust) own
    +. The old priests never see their aged pensions, that go straight to the general coffers; they don’t pay rent! And what of the substantial remuneration religious in colleges and other income producing ventures claim (tax free)? Is that not a questionable claim on the Commonwealth? All I am doing is asking the question.

  10. Thank you for your thoughts Chris Potter. Some day I would like to meet you. You are a man after my own heart.

  11. Dear All

    Here is a lovely example of what church can be from Africa, Malawi actually. Michael Howard author of “African Intercessor” has made this short video. It is heart warming to see these real men of God and the fruit in the young people, whom God is raising up for His Kingdom work amongst the Nations, through them.

    Forget your cynicism and watch this and have your Spirit and Soul lifted. Praise God …

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIPnWtpwYQc&feature=youtu.be

    Michael Howard (from white Rhodesian farming stock) was trained through Samuel Howells and the Bible College of Wales, which was founded by Samuel’s father Rees Howells of the Welsh Revival and his autobiography “Intercessor” fame. Be blessed.

    Naomi

  12. Are people too frightened to confront the issue of systemic corruption?

  13. B.T. Walters, thank you for the kiind words and taking the time to read my comments, life is very short, I am going through Chemotherapy now to deal with Cancer, I am not old by any means,I have a great wife, who I am unworthy of, she is a wonderful companion and my best friend, my sisters in law are also totally supportive, you cannot go through the heartache and stress without having people who want to walk according to Jesus ways in this, it is not easy to face some days, I have ups and downs, all I can do is rely on my faith in my God, who to me is uttterly personal, deeple cares for me and how I feel each day, I also take time to feel compassion for others in the world I don’t know or have read about. I still pray for others and help others around me who go through trying times.

    B. T .

    Take care my friend today and may the one true speak to you today and encourage you.

    God bless

    Chris

  14. Naomi , hello, my reply is, that I myself have come full circle in my lifetime walk with my God, I started off in the open brethren church in my teens, then thought that the pentecostal church was ” better ” than the boring staid worship of mainstream church’s, it was more alive, more invigorating, and jumping around and loud rock worship, but after many years, I myself found, that people who went to these chuch’s still did the same bad habits like sex before marriage, looking at porn and swearing like a wharfie and other things I found it hard to reoncile with, I used to think [ still do ] that if people have made a commitment to Jesus and they are serious about learning and modelling his ways and growing in their lives why are they just as bad as before they mad their commitment ?, I understand I am just a sinner before God, who is truly unworthy to come in the presence of a holy God, I also am totally awed by God’s presense, I myself at times lie on my floor and realise that God himseld dwells in unapproachable light as the apostle paul says, I truly see far too many have no real reverence for God like the patriachs of old did like Moses, Abraham, David and Enoch, they at least God it eacxtly right, they fell in fear at the presence of a living God, I cultivate this in my life, to not ” toke the Ghost ” like other do on TBN or act like you can siddle up to Jesus or the holy spirit and treat it like they are best buddies who will hang out with you while having a joint. The Hebrews of old would not speak out the full name of God with having real awe and reverence for him, they could only write G-d because they were aware of not taking his name lightly YHVH , I have spent time with some of the Jewish Rabbi’s who prerfectly understand this, who know YHVH [Shemot- Ha- Elohim ] truly I say to anyone on here who reads my words, I have and do have this type of relationship with him, am I perfect ? no, do I make mistakes and still sin ? of course !, I also understand that Jesus never said to those who will follow and Paul never said that we are to ask Jesus into our lives , its just not in solas scriptura, Jesus commanded all to repent ! [ totally turn around your lifestyle 180 degree’s] and then walk in his ways by growing and learning, move one step forward and sometimes two steps backward in our Christian journeys, my desire is to want to know my lord and lean into his ways evermore so as I learn, in many ways I have more wonder of God’s ways and the way he teaches me about himself and the book he has put as his guide for us all here on earth. Those who see God’s ways with clear intelligence and joy understand that we get far greater clarity when a humble and contrite heart becomes the norm in ones life. I see the modern church is failing and wants to be modern and relevant to the world, sadly that can never be, we either teach the one and only way [ solas scriptura ] or we become just another club.

    Thanks

    Chris

  15. Lovely to hear you speak so lovingly about your wife Chris Potter; I can speak the same words about mine. We are both so blessed. You write with such truth and make such an invaluable contribution. You have nothing to fear. Thank you and God bless you.

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