Mk. 12:38-40 (NIV) As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.
Recently I read this article on how a televangelist, Jessie Duplantis, is seeking donations so his ministry can buy a private jet worth about $54 million. Is this the best use of God’s money to buy a prosperity teacher an expensive private plane so he can go to more places to collect more donations to support his, his family, and I am sure many on his staff’s, luxurious lifestyle?
The New King James version states this even more succinctly. Mt. 23:14 (NKJV) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
This I say as a Christian, someone who desires to follow the precepts of the Bible and give God the glory. One who believes that we should give 10% of our income, and even more, to the work of God. So, I am not saying that teachers of the Bible should not make a living off of people’s freewill offerings, they should. We should give so that our Pastors and Missionaries can focus on doing God’s work. But these people should not live exorbitant lifestyles while keeping on asking people to give money to their work.
When I read this article, I thought of these verses where Jesus warns of teachers of the law taking from taking from those who don’t have much to apparently support the prosperity of the teachers. Jesus doesn’t give the teachers credit for being able to collect a lot of money for the Kingdom of God. He didn’t say “Good job, you collected more money so the Gospel can be spread to more people”. No, instead he warns that these people will be punished more severely. Sure, they might live a more luxurious life here on earth; but when they have to stand before God all that will be taken away and they will apparently be punished. Why will they be punished you ask? Haven’t they been wise to support themselves and their own families? Didn’t they do good to collect more money for the church? The answer lays in the next section of scripture.
Mk. 12:41-44. Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.
You see, widows don’t have much money to live on. So, when they give their little bit into God’s work, they are having to do without something that they need to live. They are giving until it hurts. Whereas people who have much really are not giving very much. They don’t give until it hurts. They can still live comfortably when they give their abundant amount. Sure, it looks good to those on the outside. But to God, it doesn’t mean as much.
These prosperity teachers do not need the riches that they have. Whereas the widows, and others who do not have much, are giving in good faith to God’s work and are doing without things they need and suffering.
There are other prosperity teachers like this; for example, Mike Murdoch. He will send nice letters and even do mass recorded phone calls to individuals using their personal names. To those who are more prone to loneliness, they will take this as he personally cares for them. He will even fly into different cities to have seminars for them. Again, he makes them feel like they are loved and appreciated; he is quite the charmer. I know an elderly lady who has fell into this trap. She doesn’t have much money and she does give until it hurts. I am sure Mr. Murdoch is living comfortably off of the giving of her and other individuals like her. I easily found this article, http://www.dallasobserver.com/music/auction-shows-how-well-prosperity-gospel-treated-mike-murdock-7993000, showing just how comfortable Mr. Murdoch lives. Sure, he says that he is doing everything for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. And sure, I am sure that he does give to some in need, (per this article Mr. Murdoch gives about 1%,) but just to put on a show. I question how much they keep for themselves to live a comfortable lifestyle. Only God knows their true motivation, but it sure looks suspicious from the outside that they are not doing this work for the glory of God.
There are several other prosperity teachers whom I could name as well. Those who live a comfortable lifestyle at the expense of those who give to them. I just think of Missionaries who leave their comfortable homes and country to serve the Lord in faraway countries. They have left the comforts of the United States. If the extra money that came in to these prosperity teachers would be given to those Missionaries, how many more people could be truly reached for the Kingdom of God. How much are these prosperity teachers taking away from the true work of God for their own selfish purposes?
Beware of those Christian teachers who put on a good show for Jesus but are actually sheep in wolves clothing, taking money away from the widows and those in need for their own prosperity. The Bible warns us that they will be punished most severely when they have to stand before God.