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Topic: Money

The Deception of God-Talk

by Darrel Cline

In our consideration of the biblical teaching on the use of money we have noted (156) that there is a lot of God-talk associated with the accumulation of material possessions. This God-talk serves two basic functions: 1) it serves as a master-deceiver to keep us blind to reality; and 2) it serves to disorient true believers within the culture so that they are subject to buying into the lie that material prosperity signals God's pleasure with us and that material scarcity signals God's displeasure with us.

Let us first consider the function of the God-talk as a Master-Deceiver. What do I mean by this? I mean that people who accumulate material possessions against Jesus' instruction to sell your possessions and give... (see Matthew 19:21 and Luke 12:33) are not really capable of actually seeing God's blessing in their disobedience. This means that their God-talk is hypocritical self-deception. As such it serves to keep them from seeing reality as it is defined by Jesus. Why would anyone want to blind themselves by giving God credit for something they are doing against His Word? That answer is easy: because they love having money and the things it will buy, they do not want to see the reality of Jesus' instruction. So, the God-talk is actually just a way to deceive ourselves and keep us in the dark.

Then, the second function of all this God-talk is to disorient true believers. This is done to keep them from seeing the truth and declaring it. How does it work? People who wish to accumulate wealth to use on their own pleasures (gamblers, sweepstakes participants, workaholics whose goal is to become wealthy, etc., etc.) do not want to hear anyone tell them that their behavior is sinful and worthy of the heavy-handed judgment of God. Therefore, to keep anyone from telling them that, they go about speaking of God's blessing upon them. The result is that the uninstructed believer is intimidated by the God-talk. Who wants to criticize someone who is willing to give God credit for his condition in this life? Thus, the intimidation serves to keep the truth from coming to light. When the truth doesn't come to light, even true believers are disoriented so that they cannot declare the truth with clarity of conviction.

Does this mean that having possessions is wrong? Of course not! Jesus didn't say Sell all that you have with the meaning that you must not own anything! Does He want us to go around naked? Is He against us having the clothes that enable us to be modest? Of course not! But He did say sell what you have. This means that we are not to over-accumulate at the expense of His agenda. He told us how we are to use our money and material possessions. Any time we do not follow His instruction, we are in violation of His command to sell and give. But, as long as the God-talk goes on in the vein that my abundance is God's blessing upon me for my indulgence of myself, the blindness remains and the disorientation continues.

Believer, wake up. Material possessions are a stewardship from God to enable your pursuit of the progress of His agenda. Use them that way.

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This is article #159.
If you wish, you may contact Darrel as darrelcline at this site.