Words of Jesus Part 28


  • Mark 12:38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
  • Mar 12:39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
  • Mar 12:40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Devour means to annihilate, consume and destroy. In the name of religion and with the pretense of doing God's work widows were often taken advantage of and robbed of their living. We are not to take from the poor money for religious reasons: For instance taking money in order to instruct them in the law of God. Freely we have received and freely we are to give out the word of God.

There was a time in Catholic Church history where sins were supposedly forgiven if one would pay a certain sum of money. The bigger the sin, the more money would be charged. Money was often charge to get a loved one's soul out of purgatory also. This should never have been allowed. The corruption that causes a body of supposed believers in Jesus Christ to take advantage of the widows and the poor is shameful. This is one reason Martin Luther protested some of the teachings of the church.

The true church should be helping the widows, not robbing them. While it is true that there is a law of giving and receiving, some of these latter day preachers of prosperity take the scriptures way beyond what Jesus taught us and even teach the very opposite of what the Lord taught even to the point of despising the poor and making them seem as if they have no faith because of the situation they find themselves in. This is the very opposite of our Lord's teachings.

To those caught up in the prosperity doctrine, ask yourself why the only ones prospering financially are the ones receiving the money, not the ones giving it. We see them covered with expensive clothing, jewelry and living in mansions while the poor widow sends her last dime. No. This is not the gospel Jesus taught.

  • Mark 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
  • Mar 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
  • Mar 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
  • Mar 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Here is a poor widow who cast in all her living even though it was a small amount. Some use this verse to justify taking money from the poor widow. That is not what Jesus is teaching here. He is commending the woman for a heart that gives. Even though it was a small amount compared to the rich, it was actually more than the others because she gave all that she had. Jesus does teach giving from the heart and giving to support the work of God. I do believe in giving and it is a joy to write a check to a place I know is helping to spread the gospel, feed the poor or help in some other way. It is actually fun to give. In no way am I urging that a widow should not give.

What we see now though is some laying guilt upon people if they do not give. We see them threatened with possible judgment of God in financial ruin. Whether or not that is true is not the point but we should not be giving just to get ahead financially. Our motive in giving should be to give because we want to give willingly. Jesus never tells us to give any other way. We are not to give out of fear, intimidation, force or because we are expecting financial prosperity.

There is far too much merchandising of the gospel. Yes, we have to sell bibles and other things because we can't make them for free but we must be careful to give the actual gospel without charge. There are organizations that do raise money to give out free bibles. This is to be commended. The gospel must go to the poor free and without charge. We advise people to give so that the gospel goes forth, the poor are fed and the laborers in the Lord receive something to live on, but we are not to do it in a way that it is done today that exploits the poor and cause the one receiving the money to live in luxury while the widow struggles to pay their bills.

I know of one pastor in Akron Ohio that refuses to live in a higher standard than those in his congregation. He has even refused raises on occasion. Most pastors would think extra money and raises are blessings from the Lord no matter how much it is and accept all and anything. However, this one will not buy himself diamond rings while just one member struggles to pay an electric bill. This is love. He may not have a fancy car, a large mansion or expensive clothing but I believe his reward in heaven will be great. This same pastor will travel out of state to preach a funeral for a family that has no minister; all at his own expense. This is love. He sits for hours with a family whose loved one is in surgery at a hospital. The greatest thing about this man is that he doesn't pat himself on the back for this but considers it his duty. He is a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To make ourselves rich on the backs of the poor and needy is not being a servant for Jesus Christ. Jesus emptied himself of all riches to become one of us. He was born among the poor and even had to be laid in a borrowed tomb at his death. Jesus took nothing and had no place to lay his head. Though he was rich in spirit and power, he was poor in material things.

Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter heaven.

I've heard of some modern preachers that teach we should find the most prosperous preacher and give to his ministry. I will not. I would rather find a struggling church and support them. I would rather support a ministry that has left all to follow Christ. We give to these great ministries while the missionaries struggle to make ends meet on the mission fields. These things ought not to be. Some of them despair and think of quitting because of lack of support while people send millions to great televangelists. If we send to them we need to make sure they are preaching the same gospel Jesus preached. Read the actual words of Jesus that warns against the deception of trusting in riches.  Read about the church in Laodicea which rich and increased with goods yet was miserable, poor and naked spiritually. 

To wish someone to prosper in a biblical sense is to wish that their journey in life is prosperous and fruitful. We are to prosper in that which benefits the salvation of the soul, the furtherance of the gospel and that which is good to support our families and help the needy. I'm sure the apostle John is not teaching us to get rich for he was not rich in a material sense while on the earth. When he wrote the book of Revelation, he was banished to an island for the gospel's sake. Many suffered persecution, their homes and property taken, and many were killed and jailed for the gospel's sake.  In no way did they teach the modern prosperity doctrine we are hearing today. 

  • Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Jesus spoke this to the apostles as well as us but they did not get rich or receive these things in their lifetime. There reward is in heaven. They did receive greater things in their lifetime and that was being rich in spiritual things and walking in the continual presence of the Lord. This is what true riches are. Not diamonds and gold. If we seek the Lord we will receive the correct understanding of these passages. 


Words of Jesus Part 29

Words of Jesus Index


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