Jesus cautioned us about the deceitfulness of riches. (Mt.13.22; Mk.4.19) The word deceitful in these verses translates to cheat or to trick. Both individuals and churches are vulnerable to deception. This week I'm sharing with you a couple of ways today's riches are deceitful. Much can be said on this topic, but two examples are enough for a blog.
Wealth can be a trap and a snare. Individual wealth is a big invitation to self-righteousness. If God has made an individual or family or group wealthy, there can develop a great, narcissistic attitude to assume this is favor from God because of some personal, inner "specialness." Wealth can generate an aura of smugness. It's so easy to forget that God is our sovereign source. (Eze.28.4, 5) Christians who are wealthy have an enormous responsibility before God. For Christians, great wealth should result in awed obedience. God gives financial increase to be used for His kingdom purposes. To tithe from God's gifts of financial bounty expresses humility and gratitude before God, as tithing puts God first.
For a church, the quest for worldly success at the corporate level can foster huge deceptions. Churches do use the world's systems to manage their business. But, for a church to measure its success by statistics, its attendance figures, or by how much money it generates, is using the wrong measure. The numbers' measure is worldly, materialistic and an almost resistance-proof temptation for self-promotion and misrepresentations. (Ps.127.1) The cheat or trick in this is that worldly success creates a false facade and generates a false sense of security. Increases or windfalls gained by a prideful, worldly church striving for success, fail to please God. (Rev.3.17)
The Biblical measure of the successful church is the spiritual growth and Christ-likeness of those who are members of that Body. (Ep.4.11-16; Ph.2.12,13; Col.1.28, 29) Scriptural faithful obedience nets scriptural results. Each Christian's primary goal is to deepen our personal relationship with the Lord, as it is in Him we live. Holy Spirit develops all that in love. By the grace of God, Christians learn to put God first and to love one another. We give glory to God for what He has done. We honor and worship God with our tithes, offerings, gifts and acts of service.
Until next time.
Love in Christ.