Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1949
NUMBER 24, PAGE 1,6a

The Devil's Lures

R. L Whiteside

Money—how deceptive and alluring it is! As a medium of exchange it is useful. With it we can buy the things we need. In such matters it is a useful servant; but too often it is used to buy things that no one needs—things that pride and vanity call for, and often it is spent in dissipation and immoral practices. In such things it is a snare, a death trap. Spending much money on fine things sometimes has a bad effect on others who cannot afford such fine things. Some people resent it, and others go beyond their means in an effort to make as big a display of finery. If a person is a member of the church, and wears much finer clothes than others are able to buy, he does not promote good fellowship. And sometimes much wealth and a display of fine clothing and jewelry make the possessors snobbish, and that is as disgusting and ill-mannered as it is sinful. Such people are really slaves to money. And a person may be a slave to money by allowing it to absorb all of his time and energy. Remember Jesus says, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." And striving to become rich is a slavish business.

The Will To Riches

"But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, 0 man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." (I Tim. 6:9-11). Paul is not here talking about people who are rich, but about people who have their mind set on becoming rich; and you will notice that he does not have any "if" as to what might be the results of such a determination; he merely states what the will to be rich leads to. And he does not exempt the riches-seeking preacher, as is shown by his exhortation to Timothy: "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of the faith." No man can "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness," while he has his heart set on becoming rich; neither will he "fight the good fight of the faith." He is forever lost, unless something happens to show him the folly of his ways. Do not allow the devil to lead you to make riches your god.

Riches Without Striving

But what about people who are rich through no planning and scheming to become so? Well, there are such people. Wealth comes to some by inheritance. Or a family may buy a second or third grade farm with a shack on it, hoping to make a living and someday to build a better house. It was hard going, but they were happy. Then almost over-night they find themselves rich from great oil wells on their land. But there is danger in riches. If a person sets his heart on becoming rich, he is lost in the effort; but there is danger in riches that come to us without any design or effort. Some who come into wealth spend it in dissipation and riotous living, and become a curse to their families and communities. All sense of shame is lost. Others are so absorbed in taking care of what they have that they have no time for associating with wife and children, no time to read the Bible, no time to attend worship, and no time to attend the sick and dying. Such people are lost—buried in their wealth—all happiness goes from the home.

And wealth gives some a feeling of superiority, and they become arrogant, haughty, snooty—vainly puffed up. They heed not this word of wisdom: "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Prov. 16:18).

Wealth is not an evil if used rightly. "Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not high-minded, nor have their hopes set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed." (I Tim. 6:17-19). This admonition shows there were then some rich disciples. If a rich man loves God and his fellow man, he can do great good.

Some think all money is "filthy lucre." It is not, if gained honestly. "Filthy lucre" is dishonest gain.

Merchandise Of The Gospel

Preachers are not immune to the money appeal. Soon after I was baptized, I heard brethren talking against making merchandise of the gospel. It seems that they had reference to "so much preaching for so much pay"—a sort of trading the gospel for dollars. To them such arrangement made the gospel an item of merchandise. They were not far wrong. But later, by observing the maneuvers of a preacher or two, I learned that there is a much more insidious way to make preaching more profitable. There are many subjects on which preachers can preach rousing sermons, and stay within the bounds of truth; sermons that please about all the brethren and rebuke no one. Mix flattery with these sermons, and the pay will be more than it otherwise would be, and a call back for other meetings. No one suspects that the preacher has left off on purpose some sermons that were badly needed. Such sermons would injure his popularity, and lower his income. There are several sinful angles to that practice. It is very much like the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, only it is worse. They kept back a part of the price for their own profit and lied about it, and such a preacher keeps back a part of the gospel for his own profit and pretends to preach a full gospel He mutilates the gospel for gain. It is one way of stealing God's word from the people. "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah, that steal my words every one from his neighbor." (Jer. 23:30). Of course these prophets were not going out and stealing copies of the law from the people. A man steals from another when he withholds from him that which rightfully belongs to him. If you withhold any part of God's word from people, you steal from them that which God meant for them to have. Yes, there are thieves in the pulpit—what about you? Do not allow the devil to lure you into stealing God's word from the people for any cause.

Fame, popularity, money— does not reaching after these things constitute a real evil? They are closely related, and tempt preachers to strive to be selected as "minister" for big churches. Sometimes several job hunters are candidates for the same place, and that is an evil I have lived a long time, and have maintained my self-respect by never knowingly being a candidate against any brother for any place. Such scrambling for places to preach has no resemblance to the Spirit of Christ. This job-hunting business, this scrambling for places, has become a sort of merry-go-around. It comes as near being perpetual motion as anything you can think of, and no one can stop it.