|pic found at acting-man.com|
One of the most often cited verses from the bible about money is Matthew 6:19, which say that you should lay up your treasures in heaven rather than on earth, generally considered to be an anti-greed message. I think this is generally a good message, focusing too much on material things can lead people to wasting their life acquiring things rather than enjoying what they have, and missing out on many important things in life such as friends and family. This leads us to Hebrews 13:5 which says to be free from the love of money, and instead be content with what you have. This is also a great message, whether you are poor or rich, it is so easy to focus on the things we don't have and miss out on enjoying the things we do. But the New Testament doesn't only focus on our own wealth, it also acknowledges that it is easy for us to evaluate other people based on how much money they have, and James 2:3-4 warns us not to treat poor people worse than rich people. It says that those who treat poor people worse than rich people are evil. Again, this seems like a good message.
But this last story really betrays what this is all about, the church wants you to give them your money. They want you to think that being wealthy is bad so you will give them your money. Granted, there are verses that try to combat this idea, 1 Corinthians 9:11-12 tells of a story where disciples went to Corinth and were more interested in saving souls than making money from them. Which sounds like a good story, except that even here they made it clear that they actually deserved money from the people, but they were passing it by in favor of saving their souls instead. Is this generosity, or just a long term investment? Perhaps they just needed more time to get the people on their side so they could take their money later. Which is exactly what we see later in 1 Corinthians 16:2. But does the church stop there? Nope! In 2 Corinthians 8:2-4 we see poor people being praised for giving money to the church "beyond their means". We also see this in the parable of the widow in Luke 21:1-4 and Mark 12:41-44, the woman is praised for giving "all she had to live on" to the church even though she was in poverty. What kind of person could take that woman's money? Greed seems to be written into the very fabric of the church.