Friday, May 31, 2013

The Midas Touch

"The Midas touch, or the gift of profiting from whatever one undertakes, is named for a legendary king of Phrygia. Midas was granted the power to transmute whatever he touched into gold."  (mythweb.com)

The teaching of prosperity in Christian churches sounds much like this Midas touch.  The "name it and claim it" idea is something I hadn't heard of until well into my Christian journey.

The first time I came into contact with the connection between God and money was when I was at a home group and a young lady said that she was believing God for a million dollars.  I almost died!  I was gasping and in shock, only to hear someone encourage her to keep believing as he believed God would give her a million dollars too.  What was this?  I thought.  I couldn't see any correlation between the pursuit of wealth and God.  

Since that time I want to share with you what I have learnt about prosperity. 

The Focus is on God First

Jesus said "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-20)  Jesus also challenged a rich man to give up his wealth and said "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 10:25)

"No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)

How do these scriptures correlate to the pursuit of wealth through Godly doctrine?  And then there's this;

"If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing.  They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."
 
So I am right, I think, that an unhealthy focus on money and teachings about this is a problem.  The focus must be on God, and treasures in heaven.  On focusing on your God given calling, and doing that.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You Can't Give Money or Tithe to Get Prosperity

When I started attending churches that taught tithing, it was something I had grown up with so understood the basis for the doctrine, but having someone tell you that it was linked to your own wealth always made me feel a little uncomfortable.  There is something ethically wrong for a preacher to stand up before his congregation and say that they must give money to the church in order to be prosperous themselves - when he is the one getting his wage from the money.

David said that he had "never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." (Psalm 37:25) We shouldn't have to beg for money in church for the ministry.

At one stage my giving got out of control, and I was giving large amounts of money away, and believing that God would bless me by having me win a prize home.  The problem was that I was encouraged in this lunacy by well meaning people who didn't realise my behaviour was actually based on mania, not the word of God.  I had taken the scriptures that say "When the Lord your God brings you into the land ... a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide.." (Deut 6:10-11) and decided that it was God promise to me that I will win a house.

I never won a house.

If we give our motivation should always be pure, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) I did give out of generosity, but I did often believe my obedience in giving was required to gain.

Most people don't go to the extremes I did, but I still hear people saying they are waiting for God to give them money.

 We Don't Get Rich Sitting on Our Arse

Most people have heard this story;

A man was caught in a flood.  Two men came by in a boat to rescue him, but he waved them away shouting "No the Lord will save me."  One hour later another boat came along, but again the man said "No the Lord will save me."  Eventually a helicopter arrived but the man insisted, "The Lord will save me."  Unfortunately the man drowned and at the gates of heaven he asked St Peter, "Why didn't the Lord save me?" and St Peter replied "for crying out loud - he sent two boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?!"

What on earth do you think will happen if you just sit at home on unemployment benefits dodging the government to receive your allowance, because you are waiting for God to give you things?  You can't just be a lazy bum and say "God prosper me, I want that car, I want that house," and expect it to fall out of the sky.  Get off you backside and do the things that God has put in front of you to do.  And don't overspiritualise it.  If your gift is washing windows then get out there and bless us by making those windows clean!

It is hard economic times, but God expects us to take the steps along the path before us.  All the promises in Deuteronomy of prosperity to the Israelites that people claim today for themselves required obedience.

What has God asked you to do?

Your Heart Must be Pure

I had a dream.

A man walked into this room and started touching things, and everything he touched turned to gold.  He had the Midas touch.  Then his clothes turned to gold and it was hard for him to breath.  Then I saw a large pool of gold ornaments and precious jewels, and there was a body lying on top.  The man looked dead, but then I realised that he couldn't move because all of his clothes were gold.  He was suffocating to death.

Then another man came in.  As he walked through the room I saw that he was touching things and they were gold, but he was fine.  He was happy and laughing and didn't even seem to notice the gold.  His clothes were fine and he was unaffected by the suffocating effect of gold clothes.  He was pure of heart.

Without a pure heart, prosperity teaching will suffocate you.

Gideon suffered from this effect of the "Midas touch".  He acquired an amount of gold and "Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town.  All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family."  (Judges 8:27)

Don't let your gold be a snare to you, and always remember "You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24b)

Rules Taught By Men

Jesus made reference to rules taught by men. So when He said that he was referring to the current religious structure. Are there rules taught by men in today's religious structure? Everyone must agree that the answer is in the affirmative. So how do we know what is just a rule taught by men, and what is a requirement of God.

Lets take a look at the thief on the cross in Luke's gospel;

Let's put aside arguments of proof of heaven, or where the apostrophe should be or it's interpretation. I think we can all agree that Jesus was saying that the thief was 'in'. So what do we know about the thief?

He was a sinner.
He deserved to die for his sins.
He accepted Jesus
He was saved

Could it be that simple?