Friday, April 4, 2014
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:3 KJV).
Do not let religion “take you for a ride,” for you will end up paying for the trip!
In recent years, news stories involving “filthy rich” bishops, priests, and ministers seem to have become more prevalent. Only after they are caught, they “apologize” for their multimillion-dollar mansions, exotic trips and vehicles, and other lavish expenditures using “church money.” The “peon-parishioners” are forced to contribute to “God’s work” by giving, and, in return, they are reassured that their “merit” will reap “eternal benefits.” Religion is the world’s most profitable business indeed!
Dearly beloved, we must, must, MUST exercise great caution when giving to any ministry or local church. Remember, Jesus sternly rebuked the “thieves” who defiled His Father’s house, the Temple (Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-17). Our Lord Jesus said these religious leaders “devoured widows’ houses” (Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). They did not think twice about taking everything they possibly could from the common Jews! Before the Apostle Paul was saved, as one of these religious leaders, he (as Saul of Tarsus) confessed that he “profited in the Jews’ religion above many [his] equals in [his] own nation” (Galatians 1:14). We read about false religious leaders swindling the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:13-20).
In the context of today’s Scripture, the Apostle Peter reminds his Jewish audience that just as the Holy Spirit operated through holy prophets, Satan operated through false prophets (2 Peter 1:19–2:3). These teachers of “damnable heresies” fell into the trap of materialism (1 Timothy 6:6-10) and coveted their converts’ possessions—they preached “feigned” (worthless/fake, but nice-sounding) words. The Prophet Micah, writing circa 750 B.C., reported, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money” (3:11).
God’s grace is not against giving (2 Corinthians chapters 8-10); God’s grace is against tithing (forceful giving). We give “cheerfully” (happily; 2 Corinthians 9:6,7) to sound grace Bible churches and ministries, but, most importantly, we give carefully!