‘FILTHY’ RICH MEN OF GOD
Wealth is never a nuisance to anyone once they are the ones making it or the ones making it are generous enough to share it with them. The ‘wealth of pastors’ is a somewhat controversial matter to talk about. Many have criticized and judged wrongly wealthy men of God or men of God who seem to preach to empower their congregation to be wealthy. Personally, I am not against the prosperity gospel it is only when it aggravates into injecting worldly greed for money into the congregation that I dislike. Also, when wealth is all a man of God preaches but never the wonderful message of the cross, I get a little uneasy when listening to such sermons. Hence I embark on this literary journey to do my best possible to write an expository piece on God’s view on the wealth of his servants.
I believe strongly that wealth is a product of wisdom, as in, it takes wisdom to be wealthy. This assertion is fully realized in the life of King Solomon. He is known to be the richest man ever to walk the face of this planet, hence we are not surprised at all at the level of wisdom of this man. I read an article recently, which valued the temple he built for God at 174 billion US dollars (it could be higher or lower). Meaning, in this day and age it would take 174billion dollars to build the temple Solomon built for GOD (how much is Bill Gates worth?). The funny thing is, this is not Solomon’s worth, as in the entirety of his wealth. Simply because in the 8th chapter of the book of 1kings, he commences work on the construction of the temple, right after this chapter, Solomon begins building his palace. Just after completing the building of the temple, he actually had enough money to build a house for himself. This implies that, he was worth a lot more than the amount he spent on building both buildings. Amongst the materials Solomon used in building the house of the Lord are precious stones like gold and expensive imported material from other countries. Solomon overlaid the WHOLE building with gold. Solomon was so rich, he became a tourist attraction as many from far and near travelled just to catch a glimpse of the splendor of this king. Amongst those who did this was the Queen of Sheba. One of the things that struck her was the sort of expensive clothing the servants of Solomon’s household had been adorned in. At a point, Solomon sacrificed 120,000 sheep and 22,000 oxen unto God, as if he was on a mission to cause the angels of the Lord to choke on the smoke of his sacrifice. I can go on and on about Solomon’s wealth and I promise you would still remain fascinated to the very end. I intentionally brought up certain key points as to how Solomon managed his wealth, used it to please God and better the lives of his people. He clearly bettered the lives of his people, because it is stated in the bible that during his reign, silver was not considered as anything. Meaning there was so much money in the system that money had lost its present day feature of being scarce. AMAZING!!
This is how rich God can make an individual who serves him diligently. This clearly tells us that, the wealth of the children of God is never a nuisance to Him. What is, however, is what they do with the wealth. I doubt anybody in Solomon’s kingdom ever criticized him for his wealth. This is basically because of what he did with it. Firstly, Solomon built the house of the Lord BEFORE he built his palace. This isn’t because he had no desire of having a place of his own, but it is simply because he placed God’s wish totally above his. He regarded and respected the things of God over his personal pleasure at accomplishing a remarkable feat. One other very important and outstanding feature of the wealth of Solomon is how he shares it with his subjects. His wealth can never be a nuisance to them because he bettered their lives too. I believe this is the most important yardstick in judging the wealth of the servants of God – ‘what they do with the wealth’. God cannot be against the wealth of his children, but he gives wealth to his children to better the lives of the many who are not as privileged. Also he gives wealth to his children to help expand and establish his kingdom on this earth. This is the sole purpose of the transfer of wealth into the hands of the children of God. Hence, let us not judge pastors by the fact that they have money, but let us go the extra mile to find out what they do with the money they have. For all you know, some of these pastors have the best welfare schemes in their churches and are helping the needy by sponsoring their wards in school. Let us be careful what we say about the blessings of God upon the life of another person.
I think the means by which a pastor comes by his money is also critical. If it is by coercing his congregation and literally draining the money out of them for his personal benefit, then it is highly ‘unscriptural’. Throughout the bible, it is obvious that God has a way of seeing to the people who worked for him. They are usually blessed with gifts. This is even evident in the life of Solomon, for even with all his riches he still received gifts from people including the Queen of Sheba.
Nevertheless, there are pastors who are wealthy by virtue of false means. For example, consultation fees, sale of Holy oil and other paraphernalia. I would like to pose a few questions to such pastors, ‘what if God sold salvation to you? Would you have been able to afford it?’ Salvation is the most important gift and if God gives it freely then it means we cannot put a price on anything related to our salvation. In the sense that, we cannot take God’s place and decide to price his gifts and sell them. Solomon is the prototype of God’s view on the wealth of his children. Let’s acquire wealth through the right means and use it to serve God and humanity.
References : 1st kings chapter 5 to 7