2012-07-04

Reflection 4 Riches is No Evil & Poverty is Not a Virtue

Some how people has this strange believe that being honest in business will not make you rich. They seem to believe that one must be a bit crocked to get rich. Hence, they also believe that poverty is a virtue. Yet such people are envious of the rich and look down on the poor. Such inconsistency is probably the cause of their misery. This post hope to clarify that riches is no evil and poverty is no virtue. The evil is in the greed of people, the rich and the poor are alike. The virtue is in the sharing of the riches.
Luxurious Lifestyles is for the Members to Decide
In the Kong Hee's alleged misuse of fund affair, many people pointed to articles like From $127k HDB flat to $9.3m Sentosa Cove penthouse as if it is a wrong thing to do or insinuating that the contributions of members are used for their enrichment. But such accusations have no basis. Upgrading from HDB to private houses are typical actions of majority. As one's career and wealth growth, one move to a better place and buy better cars. It is the most natural and human thing to do and there is nothing wrong. If you consider running a mega church of 30K people and yearly budget that runs into tens of millions, as a business and the CEO of such a business should deserve a high salary. Consider again that this large church is built from scratch by the founders, don't you think that they 'earn' it? The charge of the courts in this case is not about how well they reward the pastors and leaders and the lifestyles of the pastors but about the undisclosed misuse of funds. 
We should let the members who contribute to decide on the lifestyle of their pastors. They are free vote with their feet and contribution.
Many of the tele-evangelists in US live in big mansions, travel first class or even with their own private jets, yet the government did not take them to courts. They have declared publicly that they have such things. They even raise funds from their members to buy the private jets. They proudly show the private jets that their members have bought for them to use. If you disagree with the way they are spending their money, you can decide not to give them any thing. You can decide to quit their churches. By the way, the richest pastors are found not in US but in Nigeria!

The is nothing illegal in enjoying a rich and luxurious lifestyles with people contributions provided that they are made known to the people who willingly give to them to enjoy. If bankers and CEOs of large corporations can have luxurious lifestyle why not for our pastors that we love and adore so much? How we spend and live with the big contributions that our members give us is not a legal issue but a morale, social and biblical issue. Everyone of us is likely to have a different view point on the life of our pastors. Most people think that pastors should earn a small salary, live in a HDB flat and drive the church bus for visitations. After all, they are to be God servants and serve the people. What is the Biblical stands on riches?

Riches is a Blessing from God
The command from God after the creation of man is Gen 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 

The blessings of is Deuteronomy 28:1-23 about great possession and wealth. 
slavery in Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey. Just take 2 verses:

4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
God give you power to get wealth in Deu_8:18  You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.

If wealth is not the right to have, then God would not have given you the power to get it.

Persistent Poverty is a Curse
Immediately following the blessing of Deu 28:1-13, comes the curse which is the death and un-productivity. 
17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

Job was blessed with riches. The Devil came to destroy and kill. God restored him a double portion of what the devil destroyed. We can say that godly wealth comes from God and poverty, sickness and destruction come from the devil.

The Issue of Wealth is about How it comes and How it is Used
Someone wisely said that "Money is a good worker but a terrible boss." It is the greed for money that is sin. 

1Ti_6:10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 

The way to master wealth is not to seek it.
Seek After Righteousness first money will come is the The Golden Law of Wealth as told in Mat 6:33. See The Golden Rule for Business Mat 6:33

The Bible warn us about putting wealth first ... it will fly away.

Pro 23:4  Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.
Pro 23:5  When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.

The rich and famous in Silicon Valley tells us:
The Best Way to Use Wealth is to Give it away
I defined wealth not as the amount of asset you owned but by the amount of asset that you spend on others in improving their well being. See Advice for the Wealthy – I-Ching #14大有 Great Possession.

Jesus advised us not be worship mammoth (the God of Money) Matthew 6:24 but rather invest in Treasure of Heaven.

Mat 6:19  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 
6:20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Sin of Riches is to Hoard it for one own exclusive use.

Jesus told us the Parable of the Rich Fool Luke 12:16-21.
The rich who spent his life gathering richness for himself will not live to enjoy it but be given away. We are stewards of the wealth that God has richly provided for us. May we have wisdom to earn and use it wisely.

Pro 10:22  The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. 

Put God first and other things will be added to us that we may then share it out with others.

May God bless you richly so that you be God's channel of blessings to others.

Next: Reflection 5 Justice vs Loyalty

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Related Articles are:
  1. Reflections from CHC Kong Hee Alleged Misuse of Funds.
  2. Reflections on the Reactions to Kong Hee Alleged Misuse.
  3. Reflection 2 People Don't Change - It is the Situation.
  4. Reflection 3 Christian Faith is Not Blind
  5. Reflection 5 Justice vs Loyalty

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have serious issues with your claim that poverty is a curse. It implies that you believe in a different gospel from me. Rich or poor, it is what you are given, and in no way does that imply that you are cursed because you are poor. You cannot take your Bible verses out of context just like that to justify your prosperity gospel.

Liat Lim said...

Noted. Changed "Poverty is a Curse" to "Persistent Poverty is a Curse". We may be born poor but we don't have to stay poor. Jesus becomes poor that we may become rich.

This is not a prosperity gospel because the objective is not money about about kingdom of God and His righteousness. Wealth comes as a by-product and are to be shared and given away to bless others testifying the goodness of God.