Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV)
The world loves to condemn televangelists for greed. As disillusioned reporters hunt down preachers with lavish lifestyles, they seek confirmation that God is a fraud by looking for fraud among His people. Too often, they find it.
Any Christian living in financial abundance runs the risk of appearing greedy. We may not be millionaires, but those of us with roofs, clothing, and food are wealthier than 90% of the world.
God does not condemn wealth, but He demands generosity, obedience, and humility in proportion to our gifts.
Although we may be blessed by God with supernatural abundance, none of us should believe for one minute we were put on this earth to show the world how prosperous a Christian can become.
Jesus chose to be born, live, and die in the humblest of circumstances. Why? Couldn't God have placed Him as the son of a Pharisee, like Paul? We know Jesus could turn the world upside down and right side up from any position. He could still heal, preach, cast out demons, and choose to die on a cross by the decree of Pilate.
Maybe more people would have listened sooner if Jesus had started His ministry as a rich and successful Jew. Yet He chose the opposite position. Why? Perhaps He was better able to reach the humblest men in His world at that time, those most likely to listen, those least likely to be spoiled by greed.
Only God knows His purposes in making Christ the earthly son of a carpenter--but He does tell us to avoid the appearance of evil. To the world, an extraordinarily prosperous Christian can look like a ruthless politician or CEO--like someone who lives in luxury at the expense of the poor. Even worse, a label of 'hypocrite' can be added--therein harming his witness.
Today's scripture does not declare wealthy individuals evil, but it does tell us to consider appearances. Elaborate displays of wealth may seem like greed to the rest of the world. Does such an appearance help the cause of gathering souls into the Kingdom of God? Jesus didn't seem to think so.
So, let's keep money's big mouth closed. Unless he's working for God, he has nothing good to say.