Friday, October 3, 2008

Money talk

I get a minimum of one ‘pre-approved’ credit card offer every day in the mail, varies from 0% interest for 1 year to no interest on balance transfers for 18 months, including free vacation, free sky miles, free hotel etc. There was a time in my life when I wanted to fill my wallet with all the major credit cards. Guess what? When the credit card bill exceeded 10,000 dollars and no matter how much I paid every month everything went to interest only, I started rethinking the whole thing. After consolidating all the debt into one card, I dumped all my credit cards except just one. I think there is certain level of deception involved in these credit card, mortgage and loan offers many lending companies extend to people. The recent suffering in the economic system shows us that many people were in fact fell for it and were deceived. Many of them took loans they couldn’t afford paying, ended up giving it up for bankruptcy or foreclosure.

I read an interesting article today, called God Want You to Get That Mortgage? .

While my heart goes out to those who are trapped in the deception of lending companies, I think, at the same time, there are many who did not use their brain to make intelligent decisions. I was one of them and I am still suffering the consequences, still unsure of when I would be able to pay my debts.

I once heard a pastor telling the congregation - imagine the 4 bedroom home you have been desiring in your mind, dream about it all the time; imagine the Cadillac you always wanted, go for an imaginary ride in it; he made it a bit more funny when he said: practice washing your imaginary Cadillac in your driveway. He said he himself does practice such. And as you practice more of these, all these dreams will eventually come true. I think many people took his word to heart. When that impressive loan offer came in the mail, they thought it was God opening a way to make their dreams come to reality. [I am well aware that there are many genuine cases of losing job etc, but that's not my point here]

I believe in prosperity in the sense that God can and will provide for the needs of His children which includes physical, emotional but most importantly spiritual. Speaking about physical things, I have more than what I need today, except that Cadillac, of course! Now, should I sit here and think that I am some way inferior to the person who owns a Cadillac? Or should I even wonder that I have less faith than him? Absolutely not! In fact, it's ridiculous to think that way. But, unfortunately this is exactly what many people, who are following a line of prosperity think and believe. It's a grieving thing. [I don't even know how we got the name 'prosperity gospel', the only gospel Paul preached was the gospel which revealed the righteousness of God (Rom 1:16-17), which has nothing to do with material prosperity]

Matthew 6:19-21 makes much sense when we read it along with the understanding of our eternal inheritance in Christ and the citizenship we have in heaven. Every single promises in the Bible has some element of eternal value to it unlike the temporal promises of money and earthly treasures many preach today.

I am against today's prosperity preaching because it can only cause people to lose their eternal perspective and compromise it for the temporal pleasures of this soon passing world. I can only feel sorry for a person who thinks God has promised a supreme, glamorous and perfect life in this world. He hasn't, instead he encourages us to 'seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.' (Col 3:1). If we are preoccupied with divine money transfers and 5 bed room homes, how is it possible that we could 'seek those things which are above'?

A friend of mine once shared the story of a family who bought a remarkably big home and how they explained the motive for their purchase. In their own words: "we want to show off the blessings God has given to us, we want to make sure that we live what we preach". I don't know if you can see the problem here, but I am not able to digest this kind of thinking. In Bible, Jesus encourages those who have more, to share with those who have less; he never told us to show off! What if those who live in the streets of Calcutta start comparing their material blessings with some one living in a posh community in the west? Does God has double standard? Would it be fair to think that one of his children living in the street is inferior to another one of his children living in a mansion? What kind of a justice is that? I mean, do we even believe in a just God, today?


Amy said...

Hang in there, my friend. Your debt will work itself out. Papa knows your desire to submit your money to His care...He knows your heart. He's sorting it all out.

I loved what you said in that last paragraph:
"In Bible, Jesus encourages those who have more, to share with those who have less; he never told us to show off!"

Indeed, Jesus was never about arrogance, one-upping or causing ANYONE to feel inferior. For in doing so, that elicits shame. God is not about shame or fear.

Jesus was all about properity of the heart. One can be filthy rich financially, but bankrupt in the spirit and heart. Yet, one can be poor in wealth of money, yet incredibly rich in spirit and relationship with Papa. And those who are poor in financial wealth, indeed, those who have much more, Father calls us to share our financial wealth with them. Same goes as vice versa. Indeed, God is not about double-standards!

Excellent post, Bino!

~Amy :)

Joel B. said...

Yeah, the prosperity gospel had me tithing faithfully, and even giving a little extra each week, all so that I would receive and abundance of blessings from God because I gave. It's a load of you know what.

2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Some take that as being financially/materially rich in this world but we know that's absolute rubbish! It's all spiritual.

1 Tim 6:9-10
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Sound familiar? (cough TBN cough ahem). ;)

Joel B. said...

I shouldn't point fingers though... because I've fallen for it (sort of) in the past. Some of our debt is due to stupid fleshly desires.

Leonard said...

There was a conversation in Jacobson's " So you don't want to go to church anymore", between the 2 main characters, John and I cant think of his name right now, but it stuck with me, the guy was upset about his financial future and the John character said, "Yes but do you have enough for today", I don't know, for some reason that really resonated and stuck with me. I guess because that attitude is every where I want to be.

Bino M. said...

The whole money talk from pulpits actually confuses so many people because they fall for the perverted thinking that to have less money is to be less blessed.

Those verses you quoted speak volumes.
The prosperity gospel makes people discontent and greedy where as the true gospel will cause people to be contented in all situations (Philippians 4:11)

I think that goes with what Apostle Paul said about being content in all circumstances.
'for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.'

Keystone said...

The last time a pastor spoke the gospel of Prosperity to me, I was visiting a random church in Florida.

He shook hands with everybody leaving after service.

He smiled like Jimmy Carter.

My face was new to him. He
queried of his message that day: "Did you like the message of your HOPE?"

I parried his query with another message:
"Jesus said: The poor, you will always have among you.

If HE wants us all to be prosperous, why did HE say that the poor will always be among us?"

He turned to shake hands with others. I have visited Florida often since; never to his church.