The Word of God does teach that the Lord delights in the prosperity of His servant (Psalm 35:27). But it also teaches that “whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother having need, and shuts up his bowels from him, how does the love of God dwell in him?” (1 John 3:17).
The Christian man having the world’s good is supposed to help his brother in need in a practical way, and not just with some words. We know this because the very next verse says, “My children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”. It didn’t say he should ask his brother in need to give to the rich man of God so that God will send someone else to bless the poor brother.
Getting rich in religion is NOT a proof of God’s favor. Rev Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, has amassed untold wealth from his followers. He has told them that he is the Messiah, that Jesus of Nazareth was a failure. Do the billions of dollars of Rev Moon prove that God is with him? Do the billions of dollars in the Church of Scientology or the Mormon church prove that God is pleased to dwell with them? Of course not, unless God is indifferent to truth.
So when a Christian preacher tells us that he can spend thousands of dollars on vain luxuries he doesn’t really need, all it proves is that he is happy to selfishly waste what God has entrusted to his care for use in Kingdom purposes.
If anyone has a few million dollars lying around, I can show you how to get in every home in India for that money, on television, 24 hours a day! What is worth more, the gospel going out to hundreds of millions of people, or an expensive mansion on the coast somewhere? It all depends on who you are actually living for.
Another thing: it is possible to spend money on the “gospel” in such a way as to build OURSELVES as a kind of “marketing brand”. We can make OUR NAME great with media. When your name is a brand, you can sell your time as a religious consultant at a high price, demand high honorariums in advance before you condescend to preach in some church, and you should be able to sell thousands of books or tapes at a good profit just because your name is on it, even if you employed a ghost-writer to do the work. So it has lots of advantages. But we must be very careful that we do not exalt ourselves, lest God ultimately humble us. It is OK to have a name if it is truly God who built it for us. But the Scripture says many who are first will be last, and the last first. Anything we do to receive glory from man or to indulge ourselves with luxuries will be burned up on the Day of Judgment. Lets not be fools.
I quote from David Wilkerson talking about a recent prosperity conference he got the tapes of,
I quote word for word what was said. All the speakers could hardly get by because all of the people were running up stuffing their pockets with money. The reason they do that is a new doctrine that has just come out that says, “if you want to be blessed, you have to find the most blessed evangelist or pastor you can find because he that has been given much receiveth much, he that has little, even that which he has will be taken from him. If you find the most blessed prosperous preacher and give him money, then you will be blessed. The more blessed he is, if you give you to those that are most blessed. . . “. it is a pyramid scheme. If these men were in the secular world, they would be in jail. Ponzi schemes. Pyramid schemes. The man at the top who appears to be the holiest and speaks the loudest. Hundreds of people were running up until the pockets were bulging. The sinner says, “is this the free gospel? Dollar bills?”
Listen to what was said. The speaker got up and he said, “if a poor widow on welfare hands you $5.00, you better take it. Elijah took the widow’s last meal. You are the anointed one, you deserve it, you take it.”
The same speaker said, “I live in a 8,000 square foot house. I am going to build a bigger one now. One that King Solomon would be proud of. I just paid $15,000 for a dog. You see this gorgeous ring on my finger, I was in Jamaica and just paid $32,000 for it. I want you know that when the people in my town come past my mansion and they see my Rolls Royce sitting in the driveway, they know there is a God in heaven.”
Now, you tell me, that is the gospel? You tell me that you can’t weep over that.
It is possible to go beyond the Word of God into a kind of excess that is actually contrary to the Spirit of Christ. May God all deliver us from such things.