CREATURE VERSUS CREATOR
MAMMON VERSUS GOD (Part II)
“The labourer is worthy of his reward”
Do you believe that Almighty God spoke the Truth when He decreed that the labourer is worthy of his reward? (I Timothy 5:18) If you are faithfully serving your Heavenly Master by labouring for Him throughout your earthly life, then do you not believe that during your stay on this earth that Almighty God will give you each and every piece of mammon that you are worthy of, that you truly need, that you justly deserve, and that He will give each piece of it to you at the exact appropriate time? And do you not believe that He will freely give that to you without you having to sinfully forsake living by faith in Him and in His many promises of provision in the Bible? Do you not believe that He will freely give that to you without you having to commit the sin of coveting other people’s mammon and begging them for it? If you do not believe those things, then just why do you esteem Almighty God to be so unfaithful and so unjust??? “For he is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23) If you do not believe those things, then you need to repent of the sin of being a borderline atheist, and truly from your heart believe God, believe in God, believe on God, totally trust in Him for all your needs, greatly glorify Him by such strong, unwavering faith in Him, and cease from the sin of serving mammon and commence to serving your Creator God.
“Heavenly Father, show me just how much sin of unbelief dwells in my heart. Help me to truly see it, truly have Godly sorrow because of it, truly repent of it, forsake that terrible sin of unbelief, and wholly and fully believe Thee and all Thy wonderful promises in the Bible. I pray this for Brother Richard and for all other people also. Amen.”
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse”
Pastors who love, serve, and covet mammon typically love that verse in Malachi 3:10, commanding all the tithes to be brought into the storehouse. Many pastors (who may or may not love mammon) preach that now the church is the “storehouse” spoken of in the Old Testament and that God requires all present-day Christian believers to give ALL their tithes to their local church. Most of those pastors have the custom of passing a money bucket under the congregation’s noses during each church service and preach that all tithes should be brought into the church (which is God’s storehouse) and should be put into that money bucket. If you believe and preach that, then please seriously consider a few questions and let God’s Holy Spirit thoroughly examine your heart to see if you are being hypocritical in that matter.
“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30) Pastor, do you desire that your congregation bring that tithe of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and such into the church house when they come to a church service? Remember now, how you preach that all tithes should be given through the church. “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Verse 32) Pastor, do you want that livestock brought into your church (storehouse) on Sunday mornings?
“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed.” (Deuteronomy 14:22) Do you want your church members to bring a tenth of the produce of their farm fields and vegetable gardens into your church house? “…thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase...” (Verse 28) Pastor, if one of your church members goes fishing on Saturday night and catches 20 catfish, do you want him to put 2 slimy catfish into your offering plate the following morning when he is in church? If not, then why not??? These Scriptures quoted above are clear commands of God for us to tithe on all our increase. Just why do you preach that ALL tithes are to be brought into your church house (God’s storehouse for ALL of God’s tithes), if you do not want the tithe of the increase of the land, plants and animals, brought into your church building and given to God as a tithe? Honestly let God search your heart for any hypocrisy that may be there. Pastor, if you are to serve God, it is a must that you do not serve mammon, do not love money, and do not covet money belonging to others.
“And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.” (Nehemiah 10:37) So, Pastor, when you preach that God commands your church members to bring all their tithes into your church (God’s storehouse for tithes), please do a thorough work with your preaching by reading all these Bible references to storehouse tithing and call on your flock to bring in the tithe of all these items listed.
“And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.” (Nehemiah 12:44) Pastor, here are some more scriptural guidelines on tithing. Please don’t overlook them and please don’t fail to carry them out, lest God have to judge you as a hypocrite regarding your teaching on storehouse tithing.
From carefully listening to and observing you pastors who preach that God requires all tithes to be brought into the church, I sense that you actually do not want all the tithes brought there, fruits, vegetables, grain, oil, dough, wine, hay, livestock, fish, and other such increase. Usually it is quite evident that you want the tithe of MAMMON only. Is that because you are serving mammon instead of God? Is that because you love and covet money and thereby are so desirous to wrap your sinful, greedy fist around every dollar that you can? Pastor, I urge you to think on these things, allow God to show you His Will concerning them, and get right about them. Judgment Day is fastly approaching.
In II Kings 12, we have the account of the temple being repaired, and Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in the lid of it and set it beside the altar for receiving money. I like that scriptural method of receiving money for the Lord’s work, as opposed to passing a money bucket under the noses of the people who assemble in God’s house at church time. In the New Testament, in Acts 2:35 & 37, we see those believers bringing monies into their assemble and laying those monies at the apostles’ feet. In I Corinthians 16:2, Paul instructed those believers to lay by in store on the first day of the week as God had prospered them. Other than those 2 accounts, I do not recall any other descriptions of the collecting methods of monetary offerings in the New Testament church. So it is only speculation on my part that I do not believe they ever passed a money bucket under the noses of all the people assembled.
I believe the custom of passing a money bucket in church comes from the pastor’s and church leaders’ desires to get as much mammon as possible. The custom naturally makes people feel obligated to put some mammon into the bucket and they are likely to feel embarrassed if the other people around them see that they do not contribute. I do not believe that God is pleased at all with church leaders putting such pressure on people to give. One extremely detrimental factor involved here is that typically there are some people attending church who are not Christian believers. Therefore it is of dire importance that we convey to them that foremost we care about their eternal welfare, and that we do not covet their mammon, neither are we seeking their mammon. I believe that God is highly displeased with us purposely trying to get money from unsaved people for God’s work. I wonder how many lost people will choose to remain lost and therefore go to Hell, because they had a money bucket stuck under their noses when they attended church for the purpose of hearing the words of life.
In the late l980’s, on several occasions I had opportunity to witness to a young Japanese lady who was not a Christian and I urged her to attend church. Finally she did attend a church service near her home. The next time I saw her, she was most frustrated, telling me they had passed the offering plate and she didn’t know how much she should put into it. That act of passing the offering plate was such a stumbling block to her. I told her that she didn’t have to put anything into it, because that was for Christians to give to God and not for her. She told me that she had put a l000 yen bill (less than $10 US) into the plate because everyone else was giving and therefore she felt embarrassed not to give something. She was very strapped financially at the time, her husband having left her for another woman, leaving his wife to take care of herself and their daughter with no alimony from him. She told me that she could not afford to come to church each week and put money into the offering plate. I begged her to keep attending church and not to worry about giving money. But apparently she didn’t go back to church again. Some church leaders will face a most angry Judge on Judgment Day. It would behoove you to cease serving mammon immediately.
A pastor in the US wrote a book describing how to build a church. When I picked up that book and thumbed thru it, I was disappointed to see that one chapter was titled, “How to get Money.” In that chapter, he called on churches to make sure that each time the collection was taken during church services, that they be diligent to stick the money bucket under each nose present without missing a single nose, the noses in the choir, on the faces of the music players, on the faces of the ladies keeping the nursery, and such. Love money and serve mammon to the fullest, doggedly determined to get all the mammon possible from people. Such sin must be a retched stink in the nostrils of our Holy God, Who clearly tells us, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
I read a different testimony that was a great blessing. A pastor got convicted of passing the money bucket and ceased doing so. Thank God. Instead, he set an offering box in the church and people put into it totally of their own free will. The result was that offerings increased when the pastor made that change. “I am…thy exceeding great reward.” What a miserable loser the person is, who chooses to serve mammon instead of our Lord God. May God save you and I from being such unfortunate losers.
So many Christian ministers have their eyes set on mammon and their minds are captivated by what phenomenal things mammon has the power to accomplish. Their minds are continually occupied with scheming, dreaming, and devising plans to get more mammon. In order to glorify God, we must repent of this, cease serving mammon, and instead serve God. Our minds should be focused upon having Holy Ghost power upon our ministries. We should be praying without ceasing for God to cause the people around us to hunger and thirst after righteousness. When they do so, they will not need an overly costly, elegant church building in which to assemble. In much of the 20th century, rural Russian Christians were noted for having church services out in the forest, hiding from the communist government officials who sought to persecute them. Those fellow Christians stood in the cold snow throughout their church services in the winter, and baptized new believers in icy streams. Why? Because they hungered and thirsted after righteousness. May God give each of us such a heart and save us from the sin of serving mammon. Instead of constantly scheming in your mind to get more mammon, constantly intercede to God to make people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Then they will not require an expensive palatial palace of a steeple house in which to assemble to worship their Creator Who became poor for their sakes.
“Heavenly Father, please make me fully aware of the grave importance of doing right in all these matters I have just read concerning mammon. Please show me where I now stand with Thee regarding these matters, show me what I need to change to get right with Thee in these things, and by Thy Grace, please help me to get perfectly right with Thee regarding mammon. I pray for all Christian ministers to do right regarding mammon. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
In 1986, when I visited a country church in rural Alabama, USA, and preached there on a Sunday night, an elderly lady in that church told me; “My father donated this church property and donated the trees for the first church to be built here.” But long gone are the days when a church member donated a plot of land and the men cut down nearby trees and built a simple church building with those logs or lumber. Long gone are the days when much of the pastor’s pay was produce from his church members’ farms (slabs of meat, vegetables, fruits, even a wagon load of firewood, and such) instead of strictly mammon. As the kingdom of the devil (the world) becomes increasingly stronger and more encompassing, everything in everyone’s life hinges upon mammon. Tragically, mammon does become people’s lives. Now, few Christians bring fresh farm produce to their pastor. Likely modern day pastors and their wives are more prone to turn up their noses in disgust at it, preferring food ready to be zapped in a microwave oven and preferring to eat out most of the time. Truly we need to be saved from loving money, saved from serving it instead of serving God, saved from coveting it, and saved from making it our life. We need to learn to truly love the lifestyle that God ordained for His human creatures, tilling the ground, which requires no contact with mammon.
Almighty God, please teach me all I need to know regarding these matters concerning mammon and lead me and help me to do right regarding them. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“Thy exceeding great reward”
A few pages back, I used the term “borderline atheists” when referring to believers (?) with scant faith. I did not use that term lightly. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he IS, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) May God give us strong faith to believe that He DOES exist forever with neither beginning nor end. May we always come to Him diligently seeking Him, asking Almighty God for what we need, asking in unwavering faith believing that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him so. Then may we be content and most thankful for all He gives us both good and bad (blessings and hardships), knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God. Oh what a most blessed life it is to arrive at that spiritual plateau. May God help each of us to set our eyes on such a goal and to get our eyes off of mammon.
Always bear in mind those most important words to Abram. “I am thy exceeding great reward.” He will gladly give us much more; exceedingly much more than finite man can ever give us. Therefore, forsake begging man for his little pittance of mammon. Trust wholly in your Lord God, and look for an exceeding great reward in return. I look on them with pity when I see ministers, with their hopes ever so high, wearing themselves out begging mere human creatures for money. And then those ministers sink into such low despair when they see the mere pittance that people give to them in return for all that effort of begging they had put forth. “Ye CANNOT serve God and mammon.” By all means, serve God fully and wholly look only to Him in unwavering faith for Him to give unto you in accordance to His Will. And thereby come to know what a wonderfully and marvelously rich thing it is for Almighty God to become “thy exceeding great reward.”
“Heavenly Father, please help weak, unbelieving, doubting, wavering me to do just that. Help me to truly believe that You exist and rule and reign forever by Thy Unlimited Power. Help me to forsake looking to man for my needs and to diligently seek Thee to supply all my needs. Help me to keep my eyes, heart, and desires always focused on Thee and on Thy Exceeding Great Reward, and on that alone. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“Thou shalt not covet”
Not only do ministers weary themselves by begging for mammon, but they also greatly weary the people they target with their begging. So tragic that many Christian ministers appear to regard their calling primarily as a license to beg people for their money. Thereby they portray to the whole world our Heavenly Master as a poor, needy beggar thereby robbing God of glory, when they should be making Him their exceeding great reward instead. In 1985 while in the U.S., I visited an elderly, godly lady in a nursing home. During her life, God had blessed her somewhat financially, and in return, she had given generously unto God, giving to several different ministries. How did those Christian ministries reward her for her kind generosity to them? By regularly filling her mailbox with letters begging for more money. Folks, such ought not to be. It brings spiritual leanness to the one who does it. It brings God’s curse instead of blessing. It fatigues that giver instead of making the receiver a blessing to them. I had never met this elderly saint till that day I visited her in that care facility. Therefore I wasn’t well aware of her years of giving to many ministries. When she made some comment about a stack of letters on the small table there, I replied, “Well it must be nice to get mail.” I said that, knowing that life is often lonely and boring for a person her age and living in such a place. But when I said that, she heaved a slow, burdensome sigh and replied to me in a faint, wearisome voice, “They all want money.”
That broke my heart to hear. She was in her eighties and therefore not well able to endure servants of mammon hounding her for her money, and solely because she had been so good to them to impart some of her money to them. “Big name” preachers, to whom God has so graciously allowed mountains of money to come their way, send such beggar letters to elderly, godly Christians, tending to make them feel somewhat guilty if they turn a deaf ear to their desperate begging. Most any little thing can easily become a burden to an elderly person.
How great thou art, thou servant of mammon. How proud you must be of yourself as your filthy lucre loving heart thrills each time mammon regularly flows to you. Do you ever stop to consider that you are never completely satisfied tho, no matter how much money is given to you? Do you even take notice of how your spirit of thanksgiving steadily wanes, and instead, your mind becomes increasingly filled with scheming ways to better appeal for mammon in order to get more of it? “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver.” “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Therefore I conclude that God forbids us Christians to love money even when our goal is to use it in God’s work. First and foremost, serve God with your “being” that He created and unceasingly call on Him to save you from serving mammon and constantly scheming on ways to get more of it for His work.
After that elderly saint in that nursing home let me know how ministers heavily wearied her with their many beggar letters, I left there sorrowing over how those “ministers’” sins burdened her so. She had not known me long and had never given to me financially. So thinking on what many ministers had done to her, I decided to do the opposite for her. A few days later, I wrote her a nice letter, telling her how I enjoyed visiting with her. And as best I recall, I enclosed a $20 bill inside my letter. I wanted that dear and precious saint to get at least one letter from a minister that would be a joy and blessing to her instead of being a burden. (Also that gave her another $20 to share with some beggar preacher.) Oh how loathsome is the sin of serving mammon. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Along about that time, I visited a Christian man who gave generously to various ministries. I sat in his living room with him as he went through a stack of mail and then commented wearily to me that those many letters were appealing for money. Where is the Christian who will serve God instead of mammon? Where is the minister who will truly live up to his title by ministering to others in any and every way that he can instead of coveting others’ money and begging and hounding them for it? Where is the Christian minister who is willing to be Christ like by becoming poor in order to make many other people rich? That is the kind of Christian I want to be. Please pray for me that I will be.
At a different time, a different lady in the U.S. wrote to me here in Japan. I had been sending my newsletters to her and writing personal letters to her for some time in reply to her writing personal letters to me. She wrote to me saying, “You are a blessing. You never ask for money.” How I thank God, and give Him the glory, that He made me such a blessing to her. Please pray for me, for God to continue to keep me from coveting other people’s money and begging them for it.
“But Brother Richard, ministers have to do that in order to get money to run their ministries.” That is a lie, and down thru the ages many men and women of God have proved it to be a lie. Read of George Muller feeding many orphans by always only asking God to supply and never asking or begging man to give. Read of the Apostle Paul making tents in order to not be a financial burden to those to whom he ministered. Thank God that history is full of believers who chose to serve God instead of mammon. Purpose in your heart that you will be such a believer also, and thereby greatly glorify God. You are totally without excuse for choosing to serve mammon.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to do that. Save me from serving mammon. Help me to serve Thee instead, and thereby be a great blessing to the people around me instead of being a burden to them by sinfully coveting their money and begging them for it. Help all Thy Christian ministers to cease serving mammon. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Previously, we looked at Luke 9 to see Christ sending forth 12 disciples and commanding them to “take nothing for your journey.” Now let’s look at Matthew 10:8 to see another very important thing our Lord commanded those servants to do. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” From Whom did they freely receive? From their Lord. Now He commands them to follow His Example and to freely give. What did they freely receive, and therefore what are they commanded to freely give? It is of dire importance that we clearly discern and accurately understand exactly what we are commanded to freely give in order to obey this clear and simple command of our Lord.
I believe that command pertains to the ministry of God’s word, every aspect of ministering it. Throughout the Bible, God’s word was primarily ministered by means of the spoken voices of believers; God’s servants, prophets, apostles, disciples, preachers, teachers, and any and all believers speaking of God to other people, living human creatures personally imparting God’s living words with the voice of their own living being. I believe that God ordained such to be the primary method of us spreading His word. Think on the important fact that when we use that method that we are the least prone to charge people money for it.
God commanded Moses to write His ten commandments on stone. So, from about that time on, in addition to His spoken word, God began to give us His written word, written on stone, papyrus, paper, and such. It is regrettable that we are more prone to charge people money for God’s word when we impart it to them in written form. Because both of these methods of imparting God’s words were used in the Bible, I believe they are both ordained of God. Essentially both methods can be employed without touching Satan’s kingdom, the world. In particular, both methods can be employed without buying and selling. “But Brother Richard, one would have to buy paper and ink to put words in writing.” Oh, no. At the start, people made their own papyrus, ink, and the brushes for writing all from plants that God created, without buying any of those materials. Most of us have lived all our lives in the devil’s world, using the things of the world, becoming entrapped in the system of the world, coming to love its convenience and its power and glamour, causing us to easily forget how things were on this earth when the Lord God finished His creation and declared, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good, And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)
Present day Christians, deeply entrapped in the devil’s kingdom, make much use of man-made devices to artificially record audio and video and impart God’s words with these means. I believe that all such of these devices come from the devil’s world. (It certainly is easy for me to see that they do not come from God’s earth.) I do not believe that it is necessarily a sin to use them. But when we do use them, we touch the world, the world that God commands us not to love. And to touch the world is inherently dangerous, making it so easy for wrongdoing to follow. Normally, it costs money to impart God’s word recorded on audio and video devices. So it leads Christians to sinfully disobey our Lord’s command to “freely give,” and instead, to sell those words imparted by means of worldly devices. This is most regretful and is detrimental to the work of the Kingdom of God. If we choose to impart God’s words by any means that costs us money, we should bear that cost personally, trusting in God to supply all our needs “according to his riches in glory,” and we should “freely give” those words to the people who receive them. I have learned from years of experience that it is easy to do right if you will just set your heart to do so from the very start. How I thank God that from the very start of my ministry, He led me to always “freely give” through days of poverty when I would not eat for days in order to buy Bibles and literature to give free. I give God the glory that He has enabled me to give away tens of tons of Bibles and literature, all free. What a rich and blessed experience it has been. Truly I can testify that my Lord is my exceeding great reward. If you fail to let Him be your exceeding great reward, you will miss out on the best of life. Do serve our Lord instead of serving mammon.
Once, a senior missionary here in Japan, who makes a practice of selling God’s words, urged me to sell my books at a low price that would just cover the cost of printing and shipping. He touted the positive aspect of that being a very low cost to the receiver. But I replied, “No way.” Christ didn’t command us to sell His words at the low price of our cost only. He commanded us to “freely give.” WHAT IS WRONG WITH OBEYING OUR LORD? Why are so many of His servants so dead set against obeying God??? I believe that the answer to that is, because they have already set their hearts and minds to serve mammon and are strongly determined to never change regarding that.
The “best” of Christian ministers set themselves against their Lord’s command to “freely give.” Recently I read what a preacher who sells God’s words wrote about that command. (And he is a good preacher.) He spoke much about the fact that Christians who obey that command and also call on others to obey it, typically fail to do the other 4 things Christ commanded in that same verse. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” Well, does failure to obey some of Christ’s commands make it best for us to be consistent by going ahead and purposely disobeying all of them? God forbid. How many of God’s commands in the Bible have you disobeyed during your lifetime? (The answer is “Many, likely most all of them.”) Well, does that much disobedience call on you to be consistent by purposely setting out to disobey all of God’s commands? Ten thousands times NO. I thank God (and give Him the glory) that He has healed some (not all) people that I have prayed for to be healed, and has cast devils out of some people when I commanded them in Jesus’ Name to depart. And if it ever be His Will for me to raise the dead and cleanse lepers, I trust that He will then give me the faith to do it.
While on earth, Christ did raise dead people, but only rarely. That, and cleansing lepers, are rare and monumental works that few people did throughout the Bible. Nothing written in the Bible leads me to believe that it is God’s will for us to heal every person that gets sick or raise back to life every person that dies. But I firmly believe that He commands us to always impart God’s words totally free of monetary cost to the receiver. (I firmly believe I have God’s spirit in saying that, and I feel greatly blessed to have those last 2 sentences on my record for Judgment Day.)
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12) There is much food for serious thought in those 3 verses. One thing I want to bring out here is the importance of us being faithful in that which is least, in small things. “Who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10) That is exactly what our fallen nature tends to do when we have only a small amount of money. We tend to despise that small amount, craving to have much money, and to have it now. All stages of spiritual that God ordains for each of us are direly essential. As we Christians start out as spiritual babes, God entrusts us with small things to see if we will be faithful in them. If we pass His test by being faithful in those least of things, then He will entrust us with increasingly greater things, all the while teaching us the great virtue of patience. But we are so dead set on rebelling and on increasing (remember the first 3 chapters of this book) that we want to bypass the small things and move on to greater things as speedily as possible and thereby also miss the lessons on patience. May God save us from such disaster and certain failure.
“Lord, please save me from such self-willed disobedience. Please help me to be faithful in that which is least and help me not to despise the day of small things. Grant me patience to learn all the spiritual lessons Thou hast deemed necessary for me. I pray this for Brother Richard and for all other people also. Amen.”
God ordained that we primarily do His work with our living being. If and when He allows mammon to come our way, may we carefully seek His Will in its use, be faithful in it and thankful for it, no matter how small its amount. At the start of my ministry, I would use some of the little mammon I had to buy Bibles and literature to give away free. The Lord steadily blessed that by increasing my supply, so that since the early 1970s He has enabled me to give out tons of God’s words printed on paper without ever charging the receivers anything for it, not even charging for the cost of sending it to them. How I praise My Wonderful Lord for being my “Exceeding Great Reward” and for supplying all my needs “according to his riches in glory.” Oh what an abundant, all-sufficient supply. Please always bear in mind the means by which He will supply all our needs; “according to his riches in glory.” Almighty God is the Only Being Who has the means to be our “Exceeding Great Reward.” Other human creatures do not have that means. So why chase after them, sinfully coveting their mammon and begging them for what little pittance they will throw at you? May we Christian believers truly be believers by always looking to God’s supply and by not loving, serving, and coveting mammon, and by not selling God’s words for any reason at all.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to do just that. I pray that Thou wouldst help all Christian believers to do just that. Please impress upon us all the grave importance of honouring Thee by not serving mammon. Amen.”
“Thou art rich”
In the early 1980s, a pastor read the first edition of this book and was apparently highly displeased with a lot of what I am writing in this chapter. The next time I visited his church on Guam, he called me into his church office and lectured me soundly on many good things we can do with mammon. (But God gives us no license to love money with the aim to use it in God’s work.) We must always keep that thought foremost in mind, or else we will come to love mammon, serve it, and chase after it, and thereby our lives will become terrible testimonies. Toward the end of his stiff lecture, he asked me if I equate poverty with holiness? Let’s look at what God’s words say about that. I do not find words in the Bible that exactly equate physical poverty to “holiness.” But let me tell you what I do find in the Scriptures relating to that.
My Lord and God warned us all that, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) That clearly teaches riches to be a hindrance in entering into the kingdom of God. “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5) These Scriptures make it most clear that a poor person is much more likely to be saved from going to an eternal Hell and instead spend eternity in God’s blissful Heaven, than a rich person is.
“Blessed be ye poor: for your is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled…But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! For ye shall hunger.” (Luke 6:20-24) These scriptures “equate” poverty with God’s blessings and riches with God curse.
That pastor asked me if I equate poverty with holiness. About the closest thing to that equation I can find in the Bible is God equating physical poverty to spiritual riches, and vice versa. “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write…I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich).” (Revelation 2:8-9) Upon speaking of their physical poverty, God immediately proclaimed them to be rich; spiritually rich in good works on earth and rich eternally with much treasure laid up in Heaven.
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write…Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, AND POOR, and blind, and naked.” (3:14 & 17) Each and every time your mind is drawn to dwell on all the things you can do for God with mammon, think also on these important scriptures in Revelation. These Laodicean believers boasted of being rich, of being increased with goods, and of having need of nothing. You can readily see that their hearts are set upon their earthly riches and are far from God. So God has that angel declare unto them that in reality they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
Throughout the Bible, earthly riches are spoken against in several various ways; in connection to spiritual poverty, as a hindrance to spiritual riches, or some other similar fashion. On the other hand, earthly poverty is often associated with spiritual riches. I already quoted that in Revelation 2:8-9. Now look at what Paul says about himself in II Corinthians 6:10. “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” Meditate on those paradoxes. Isn’t that glorious! Read the previous verse. “As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed.” (6:9) Oh how I love that passage!
“As poor, yet making many rich.” Paul also told us that he learned to be content in whatever state he was in. May God help us believers to arrive at that spiritual plateau. May we be content in physical poverty, even rejoice in it because it tends to spiritual richness. May we make God our exceeding great reward and joyfully give all that reward back to Him for the work of His kingdom, choosing to stay physically poor and spiritually rich. It would be a “rich” Bible study for you to look at the words, “rich” and “poor” in your concordance and read every scripture in which either of those words appears.
In late 1983, I finished writing my first book manuscript and wanted to have it printed. But I didn’t have the money to pay for that. So I sought employment and found 3 jobs that I worked at the same time for about 3 months. Most days I worked 2 of those jobs each day. One day I worked 24 hours straight, getting paid an hourly wage for 24 hours non-stop. Usually, I would work those paying jobs from 8 to 16 hours a day and then do evangelistic work for 2 to 4 hours each day. (It made for full days, to say the least.) I saved those wages to put down on the first printing bill, and soon got that first book printed in 1984.
While on furlough in the U.S. in 1985, each place I went to preach, I put those books out for people to take free. When preaching at a missions’ conference at a small Bible college, I put out stacks of books and those young men and women snatched them up, happy to get something free, being money strapped Bible college students. Some students took extra books to give to friends. As they stood there at that table, talking to me and marveling at the stacks of books disappearing from off the table, one of the young men remarked to me, “You must be rich.” I just smiled, thinking of the many days I didn’t eat, and of one time working 24 hours straight to get money for printing those books. And I rejoiced in how rich I actually was. “I know thy…poverty, (but thou art rich).” “As poor, yet making many rich.” It was so easy for me to make those money strapped students feel rich. All I had to do was simply obey my Lord’s command to “freely give.” What do you have against obeying that glorious command of your Lord???
By the way, the retail price of books is about 10 times the cost to print them. A book priced in a bookstore at $20 probably cost about $2 to print. The author and publisher share about $8, with the publisher getting most of that mainly for promoting the book to make it sell. So the bookstore buys it for about $10 and doubles the price, taking that much in profit to put it on their shelf, ring up the sale, & sack it. What a system. That system of the world is so different from “Freely give”.
By the way again, I’m sure you have noticed that when Christians sell God’s words in book form, they price a $20 book at $19.95 for the same reason merchants of the world price a $20 item at $19.95, for the purpose of deceiving the prospective customer into visualizing a lesser cost than actually is. “The deceived and the deceiver are his.” (Job 12:16) May God save us from deceiving others. May God save us from serving mammon. May Christ help us to obey His command to freely give.
Now that the subject of Bible colleges has come up, allow me to preach about them briefly. In the Bible, one of the closest comparisons I can find to a Bible college is in II Kings where Elisha gathered the sons of the prophets around him and taught them in a setting almost totally void of any facilities. That is quite a contrast to the expensive facilities of modern day Bible colleges and Christian universities. I surmise that Elisha charged those boys no tuition. That too is in stark contrast to the high tuition of most modern day Christian institutes of higher learning. If you provide lodging and meals, likely there is nothing displeasing to God for you to charge the cost of that. But to “freely give” the words of God, you must make it tuition free. “But Brother Richard, we couldn’t operate like that!” Then close down and refuse to dishonour God by disobedience to His command to “freely give.” Why can’t your professors work another job 8 hours a day for their living and still find time to teach young prophets for 4 hours out of the 16 hours remaining in the day??? Please don’t bother to answer me. I just would not be able to comprehend your answer, having worked 8 to 24 hours a day in order to “freely give.”
I never cease to be amazed that any time in history when practically the entire body of “Believers” come to the consensus that certain of God’s commands just have to be disbelieved and disobeyed, that God never fails to raise up a few who do right in the matter at hand and call on the vast majority to do right also. What a thorn in the flesh those loners are. If God graciously allows me the privilege of being used of Him in such a way, I would count it such a great honour. I say, forget about mammon and “Freely give.” “As poor, yet making many rich.” Oh how I desire to be like the Apostle Paul in that regard. Please pray for me that I always will be.
“Heavenly Father, please help all of us to be as Paul, as poor, yet making many rich. Amen”
“I know thy…poverty, (but thy art rich).” On a chilly Friday afternoon in November 1981, I strapped my box of Bibles, song books, slide projector, tape player, and such onto the back of my bicycle and pedaled it the 3 miles or so to Senpukuji community hall to hold one of the several children’s services I held there over a number of years. That morning, I had pedaled to the grammar school there and passed out invitations to the children as they walked into the school. And this afternoon, what a joy it was to see 24 of them come thru that door, walk across an area of dirt floor, take off their shoes and leave them on the dirt, and step up onto the raised straw mat floor section of that old, dilapidated community hall. I played with them till starting time at 4 PM and then had “Sunday School” for 50 minutes, singing praises to God and teaching them clearly of salvation in Christ. I then gave them small gifts, closed the service, and they straggled away when they wanted to. A few of them stayed around a while longer.
Three boys went to the small store nearby and bought instant ramen (noodles) there. The lady in the store took the kettle off the small stove and poured hot water into their bowls of noodles, and then the 3 boys brought their Styrofoam bowls of noodles back to the hall and sat down to eat them with chopsticks. I was sitting there talking to about 5 other children who were still there. There was no heat in that hall and I sat there wearing my coat on that chilly fall day. The smell of their hot noodles drifted over to me and smelled so delicious, mainly because I hadn’t eaten in 3 days or so, mainly in order to have the money to rent that hall, give gifts to the kids, and such. And as I sat there cold, in that dilapidated, gloomy old building with a partial dirt floor, and with the warm flavor of those noodles teasing my empty stomach, I suddenly felt so poor. Nothing like being cold and hungry to make one feel blue. “I know thy…poverty.”
But then I thought on what else was involved there. It is likely that never before, down thru all of history, had a Gospel meeting been held in the Senpukuji community. And that day, 24 precious souls had come there and I explained to them as best I could, salvation in The Lord Jesus Christ. They had listened well, and now I was doing follow-up. As I sat there on that floor with both of my legs straight out in front of me (there were no chairs), a Japanese girl was sitting on each of my legs. Both of the girls were listening intently and asking questions, as I talked more to them in their own language of Christ’s love and sacrifice for them. And suddenly I felt so rich. “But thou art rich.” I was rich beyond measure. What a rich and glorious privilege to be on the opposite side of the world from my home country, cold and hungry, sitting on the floor of an old shack, to impart, free of charge, God’s words of eternal salvation to those 2 precious, little souls (for whom Christ died) who were being raised in heathen, pagan idolatry. I was rich beyond compare. I am a child of The King, soon to be wearing regal robes, feasting at the marriage supper of the Lamb, walking the golden street of the Celestial City forever, never to be cold and hungry again. That is going to be “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” And if those two girls, who sat on my knees listening about Christ, are also in Heaven, what added joy that will be. If multitudes more of precious souls like them are also in Heaven because God enabled me to choose to become poor for their sakes, how much more joy that will add. Since 1974, I have been regularly experiencing such richness here in Japan. I pray that you are experiencing such richness where you are. “As poor, yet making many rich.” Serve God, not mammon.
Let us again look carefully at Christ’s Perfect Example to us in this matter and consider it most seriously. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (II Corinthians 8:9) That this Rich King of Kings would become poor for my sake, that unworthy I might become eternally rich, makes me want to love Him with all my heart. It also makes me want to perfectly follow His Perfect Example by becoming poor in order to bring as many other people as possible into the unsearchable riches of Christ. “I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8) I take this greatest Love most personal, that God the Son, the King of Kings, would gladly and willingly become poor for my sake, so that through His poverty, I might be rich forever. Therefore, in this life, I want to do everything I can for Him. What a privilege to be poor for His sake.
Do you also take that personally, that the Lord Jesus Christ, tho He was rich, yet He became poor, for your sake? If so, then just what are you willing to do in return for Almighty God??? Get your eyes off mammon and its attraction, allurement, and power. And instead, focus your sight on Christ’s unsearchable (infinite) riches in order to save yourself from serving mammon and in order to enable you to truly serve God with all your heart. Choose to become poor, for His sake, in order to make many other souls rich for all eternity.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Here again is that dreaded word, “poor”. But Christ calls it blessed. To be “poor in spirit” means to reckon one’s self as being nothing and as having (owning) nothing. That is how that we, in return, become poor, for Christ’s sakes, in order that our Lord Jesus may be greatly glorified and that many other human creatures may be made rich for all eternity.
“Heavenly Father, please lead me to become truly desirous to daily live this spiritually rich experience of being “as poor, yet making many rich.” Please help me to truly desire for Thee to save me from serving mammon so I can serve Thee wholeheartedly. Lord Jesus, help me to know the full extent of Thy Love to me in that, tho Thou wast rich, Thou willingly became poor for my sake. Help me to take that unfathomable Love most personal. Please help me to be most willing to be poor for Thy Sake, and to gladly do anything for Thee during my life here on earth, in order to make other people rich forever. Help me to truly become “poor in spirit,” reckoning myself to be nothing and as owning nothing. Help me to come to regard my Creator God as the Sole Owner of my being and all my possessions. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Please meditate deeply on what God’s Holy Scriptures say about “lucre.” We don’t commonly use this word in our daily conversation. So I now looked in my dictionary to see its definition of lucre: “riches; money: chiefly derogatory.” So do keep in mind that “lucre” is a derogatory way to refer to money. My concordance shows only 1 reference to lucre in the Old Testament. I Samuel 8 tell us that when godly Samuel became old that he made his sons judges over Israel. “And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” (Vs. 3) Instead of walking in Samuel’s godly ways, those sons did something entirely different by turning aside after lucre. This sin of choosing to serve mammon led them on to further sins of bribery and perverting judgment.
“Lucre” is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament. I will write those in order here. Each time in the New Testament, it is called “filthy.” Do meditate on that facet of it, regarding us Christians who are to be clean, holy, and pure. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” (I Timothy 3:2-4) This position of bishop in the church is today commonly called the pastor or minister. “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.” God forbids these church leaders, bishops and deacons, to be greedy of filthy lucre. They must be void of greed of filthy lucre in order to qualify for those positions of leadership. That makes me wonder just how many present day bishops and deacons qualify for their positions.
Titus chapter 1 again lists the qualifications of a bishop, one of them being, “not given to filthy lucre.” (vs. 7) After listing the qualifications for a bishop, that chapter then gives this warning. “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” (Verses 10-11) How regrettable and deplorable it is that when considering what ministry to go into, where to minister, what church to pastor, and such; one of the foremost thoughts of some “ministers” is “How much money will it mean to me?” Another thing some “ministers” do is to exercise care to preach and teach in such a way that will be conducive to mammon coming their way, “teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.” (I Peter 5:1-2) We should rejoice and glory in being “as poor,” in order to make many souls (including ourselves) rich for all eternity. We should not be feeding the flock of God with a goal of receiving money for doing so.
While Christ ministered here on earth, I do not believe that He ever touched a piece of money. I believe the main reason He did not, is because it is filthy lucre. It has its origin in the devil’s kingdom, the world. Therefore my Lord Jesus had absolutely nothing to do with it. In II Corinthians 6:17, we are commanded to “touch not the unclean thing.” That passage of scripture does not clearly specify what this singular thing is. But because the word “lucre” in the scriptures is almost always preceded by the description of “filthy,” I wonder if “filthy lucre” is “the unclean thing” referred to here.
“Heavenly Father, please teach me just how filthy in Thy Sight is lucre, money, mammon. Lord Jesus, please help me to keep my eyes on your Perfect Example of never touching it during Thy ministry, and help me to desire to be Christ like in this important matter. Please teach me exactly what is the unclean thing that Thou commandest us not to touch. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter”
When we talk about the “economy” (of the world, or of a nation, or such) we are referring to the monetary condition of that place. And basically we are talking about the condition of the devil’s kingdom, the “world” that God forbids us to love. (God’s true economy is the human creature tilling and working the ground to obtain his life’s needs.) Think on how nations’ monetary economies grow with time, becoming more powerful with a steady increase in the amount of mammon in circulation.
A GNP (gross national product) that doesn’t increase is considered stagnant and unacceptable. We are taught that the GNP must steadily grow. So everyone involved puts maximum effort into fueling that growth. By doing so, in reality what we are actually doing is building more onto the devil’s kingdom to make it stronger, more powerful, more dominating and controlling, and more destructive. Think on how the devil has brainwashed us to go all out to build his kingdom by programming us to keep the GNP growing. That is a most powerful and destructive force. And consider how that God’s true economy essentially needs no growth. Each human creature just keeps tilling the ground every year to obtains his basic needs, being content with food and raiment. Of course, as the population grows, there will be more people doing that. But still, that is completely different from the growth of the world’s system with money supply increasing, and such.
Presently, the kingdom of the devil (the world God forbids us to love) has grown to mammoth size, thanks to the vast majority of nations’ populations (up to 98%) forsaking their Creator ordained estate (tilling the ground) and instead laboring furiously to build the kingdom of the devil for the reward of mammon they get in return. Presently, it is astounding what large rewards of mammon are available to most anyone who is foolish enough to choose to serve mammon and chase after it. In the first 3 chapters of this book, as I preached against “increasing” and “rising,” I preached against competition. Think on what large rewards of mammon fuel the intense professional competition among human creatures on this planet, in pro sports, and many such areas of competition. Mountains of money are paid to an individual just for him or her to compete.
Another brief example of mountains of mammon is all the money the various entertainment businesses throughout the world take in to poison billions of people’s minds with worldly and sinful entertainment, eternal human minds that God created and ordained to meditate in His Law day and night. Fewer and fewer are the people who serve God instead of mammon and who do not love money. What an evil, sinful, and idolatrous generation we have become regarding that. How we need to call on God to save us from those sins.
“Almighty God, please save me from worshipping, loving, and serving money. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
It is common that people of the world greatly delight for the flow of money to increase in amount, because that increases the likelihood of more mammon flowing thru their money loving, mammon serving sinful hands. Therefore they are prone to do all they can to increase the flow of money in society, and they are also most prone to look down on, scorn, and ridicule people who do not love money and do not serve mammon. In the late 1960’s, I was a student at Auburn University, which was a quite conservative school at that time. Also, their football team was quite strong and therefore went to a bowl game some years. I recall my sociology professor (with light ridicule and scorn) telling how that the cities that hosted football bowl games detested to have the Auburn team come there to play. The people of those cities would scornfully say, “The Auburn fans arrive at game time with a sack lunch and leave as soon as the game is over,” meaning, of course, that they spent no money in that city. Those city leaders and merchants want sports fans to come who will spend 2 nights or so and spend much money in their city. They scorn people who love and serve God instead of loving and serving mammon.
Back in the 1950’s, a certain large Baptist denomination was quite conservative and fundamental at that time. Each year, they would hold their annual national convention in a different city in the US. The “city fathers” and merchants of those cities scorned and ridiculed (usually lightly) those conservative Christians who flocked to their annual conventions because they spent very little money when they came to town. It was scornfully said of them, “They can come to town with the Ten Commandments and a twenty dollar bill, and not break either of them.” Sinful, money loving, mammon serving merchants and city leaders have little use for such people because they don’t release much money into the flowing current. They want people to break many $20 bills when they come to town. And most of those cities provide unlimited sinful opportunities to break an unlimited number of God’s commandments, for a monetary cost of course. Turn your cities into cesspools of filthy sin because of the filthy lucre it will bring in, and then soon stand covered in all that filth before Almighty God your Judge. The Judge of the Universe will have much punishment to meet out, come Judgment Day. Those who love and serve money will reap a Big Payday, but tragically not to their liking.
My fellow Christian believer, if you please your Creator by not loving and serving mammon, do not let it catch you by surprise that the devil’s crowd (and money loving Christians also) will scorn and ridicule you, trying to make you ashamed of doing right. By all means, do not let them intimidate you. Because your Creator is most pleased with you and is also most glorified by your obedience to Him. Also, never forget that you are rich for all eternity. Rejoice that God has so blessed you by saving you from loving and serving money. Therefore, proudly stand before the filthy lucre crowd as a saint of the Living God who loves and serves his Creator instead, thus giving God much glory.
“Lord God, please help me to do just that. Help all other people to do it also. Help us all to do right. Amen.”
In Acts Chapter 3, we see the pitiful lame man laid daily at the gate of the temple begging alms from those who entered the temple, likely just to buy a little food to keep from starving. “Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:3-8) That pitiful lame man was made much happier than he would have been by receiving silver or gold. Let’s serve God with our created being, by His Great Power, and look to Him in faith to see Him work such great works through us, all for His Great Glory.
I believe that the desire to be rich in the things of this world stems from our fallen, sinful nature. But the basic desire to be rich may not be innately wrong, because God desires that we be spiritually rich. We just mistakenly and tragically set our affections on the wrong riches, worldly riches that are of the devil’s kingdom. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Believe me when I say that the most dire poverty you can possibly experience in this life is to serve mammon, instead of serving Almighty, All Sufficient God and letting Him be your Exceeding Great Reward. May God help you to totally believe that and to choose to love and serve Him instead of choosing to love and serve mammon, money, filthy lucre.
“Almighty God, please create within my heart a sincere desire to serve Thee only and to not serve mammon at all. Please help me to truly believe that Thy spiritual riches are the only true riches. Please save me from setting my affections on things of the earth, and help me to set them on things above. Teach me everything I need to know regarding what is written about mammon and money in Thy Holy Bible. Help me to learn what I should from these 2 chapters about mammon in this book also. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Keep in mind the reasons I have given you for being in God’s ordained estate for us human creatures, that of living on the earth and tilling the ground. 1. God ordained it. 2. We must have food in order to live in this life. 3. It preserves the human family God created. And in these 2 chapters, I have given you another important reason. 4. It is our Creator ordained alternative to working for money, loving money, coveting money, serving money, touching filthy lucre, being destroyed by money, and building the devil’s kingdom on this earth. Let us think seriously on these things and listen intently to what God’s Holy Spirit speaks to us regarding these most important matters.
“But Brother Richard, I just can not instantly drop all the things I am presently doing and just go out and start living on the land.” I know the truth of that. And I know the truth of how deeply we all are entrapped in the system of the world, the devil’s kingdom. But the most important thing for you to do is to stop loving the world and stop loving money. AND YOU CAN DO THAT INSTANTLY. YOU CAN GET YOUR HEART RIGHT IN THIS MATTER INSTANTLY. You have no excuse for not getting your heart right concerning mammon right now. May God help you to do that.
“Almighty God, by Thy Unlimited Power, please help me to get my heart right concerning mammon right now. Save and deliver me from loving money and from desiring to serve mammon. Create within me a genuine love for the lifestyle Thou didst ordain for us human creatures, that of tilling the land to obtain the necessities of this life. Help me to be content with food and raiment, and in Thy time, guide me into the lifestyle Thou wouldest have me to live on this earth. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
(This is the end of Chapter 9 of “Creature Versus Creator”)