It is God's desire for his people to be prosperous. To have more than enough. To be able to give away much as the Holy Ghost prompts. It's his pattern.. we are the hands, eyes, ears and POCKETBOOK of the Father here on earth.
Where it becomes a problem is when it becomes immoderate. Over the top. Particularly in ministry. You are in the keen eye of the saints. You are a testimony to the world. You are a model to be followed. Because of all this, when excess in appetites become obvious and visible it is not only unwise but a stumbling block.
We see this in the news. We see it on TV. It is parodied in movies and sitcoms. The greedy minister is almost legendary.
Television is a wasteland of such: Look at the preachers of LA, the preachers of Detroit some of whom live in houses that are beyond belief. Then there was the recent dust up over a jet proposed to be purchased by a ministry for 65 million dollars. And there is a ten million dollar home just built by the pastor of a large ministry in Texas. None of these are wrong in and of themselves, it's when the saints begin to imitate these people.
These things are immodest. They lack wisdom. They are bad models. They are flesh over spirit victories in lives that should be driven by the Spirit of God. The devil didn't do it, their carnal flesh did. Many have gone astray because of these unfettered appetites. These kinds of things stain what is supposed to be the spotless Bride of Christ.
- People buy things they cannot afford to have the "Look" of prosperity
- Some drive cars so ostentatious that there is a question mark when people see it
- Some build mansions so large that people ask why
- Some buy Jet Airplanes worth many times what any ministry requires. No one man is that important. Not in the Kingdom. If you read Final Quest you see such an example.
There are many scriptural admonitions about these things.
Proverbs 25:16 If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
Proverbs 23:20-21 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Titus 2:7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,
1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.
Proverbs 31:4-5 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Wait, you might say, they are Men of God or Women of God and they aren't getting drunk.. right?
Once you give into fleshly carnal desires, the flesh wants more and more and more. First a bit of wine, then stronger. First entertaining a flirt and then falling into adultery or worse. That is why so many people in ministry end up shipwreck. They never learned to control their flesh. Not in booze and broads and but they fed their flesh with excess.. immoderate in all things, they opened the door to worse.
I know for some this seems harsh. It's not. I understand nice things. I like them too. BUT I spend MY MONEY on them. I don't look for others to feed my lusts of the flesh or wrap me up in the deceitfulness of riches.
Stars of music and entertainment, big businessmen and people that just inherit a ton of money can do this. They are not accountable. They are not models and once again it is THEIR MONEY. When a man or woman of God do this it opens a door to greed that will not easily be shut. It also creates a spiritual arms race. IF so and so can have a Bentley, I can too.
We all agree with Bible verses that follow regarding women. They were warned,
1 Timothy 2:9-10
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.
I have heard some pretty harsh preaching on this.. BUT do those same admonitions apply to a man and in particular a minister of the Gospel? I submit they do.. MEN can be horribly vain, they just express it with houses, cars and extravagance.
In fact the Word of God warns emphatically against allowing worldly appetites to overtake a person.
1 John 2:16
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
1 Peter 5:5-6
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1 Corinthians 12:22-24
On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
As I read these passages I am struck how a lack of modesty, or an immoderate life is considered ungodly. Even looking at a woman is adultery?
The Bible Finally says.. this.. we are to be models, representatives, living testaments, ambassadors. Someone that a believer can say to his son or daughter "When you grow up, strive to be just like THEM"
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 11:1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
So if we are going to imitate Christ so others follow us.. does that look like the world of excess you see in so much of the western Church? AND we wonder why the culture is deaf to our message. They can't stand the stink.
God is saying to those who are Immoderate:
Haggai 1:4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6 You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
The house of the Lord is in Ruins in the USA..
‘I will build a magnificent palace
with huge rooms and many windows.
I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar
and paint it a lovely red.’
15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
says the Lord.
There is judgement against those who have fed the flesh with worldly things and appetites:
How terrible for you who sprawl on ivory beds
and lounge on your couches,
eating the meat of tender lambs from the flock
and of choice calves fattened in the stall.
5 You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp
and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.
6 You drink wine by the bowlful
and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions.
You care nothing about the ruin of your nation.
Judgement begins in the house of the Lord, and that Judgement is now.. Repent of your folly. Live Holy, Separate from the world and without greed and avarice. The eyes of the Lord are upon you..
How shall we then live?