Wealthy Christian Leaders :: by Ron Graham

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).

It can get pretty discouraging, especially in these last days before Christ’s return, as we’re confronted with more and more high profile Christian leaders falling into sinful lifestyles.

When I read about both men and women pastoring huge mega churches, or those who are out on evangelistic tours pulling down yearly salaries in the millions, all the while building up fleets of exotic cars, boats, and flying their own personal jets around the world, I’m actually grieved in my spirit. Why? Because almost without fail the next thing we know is they’ve been caught in some kind of scandal, and it is usually of a sexual nature.

It seems that the more money they receive the less attractive lifestyle they lead. Year after year the news reports come in exposing, even detailing, the less than moral lives many of these individuals have been living. Professing Christians – all of them leading huge flocks of parishioners to where? God knows.

Without fail, as they are caught in the most compromising of positions, out come the tears and the cries of repentance begging for forgiveness. Have they actually repented and turned away from the sinfulness that got them into the bind they are in? Only God knows. But we as followers of Jesus Christ must make a decision to forgive them and continue to follow this person’s teachings, or to simply move on.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21, 22)

Here Peter refers to a brother sinning against a brother, but these folks are sinning against God and it is God whom they need to ask forgiveness of. Of course God will forgive them but God can see their hearts, He knows if they are truly sincere or not.

The love of money certainly is the root of all evil, of that fact I have no doubt. It seems that many of these folks started out in the most sincere ministries, but as their following grew they became wealthier and wealthier until their lifestyle had made such a change that finally their extremely flamboyant lives demanded they pursue more wealth.

Oh sure, they can preach a sermon that draws huge crowds, we’ve all seen the results of their obvious charisma. And they seem to draw folks with some very deep pockets. They are very convincing with their showy, sometimes fiery, sermons, but are these folks actually portraying a Christ-like lifestyle or are they living a “behind the scenes” type of life that if truth be known would have us squirming in our seats?

Was Christ ever rolling in the dough? Did Jesus Christ ever come to a meeting in one of the most expensive modes of transportation of His day, or did he usually walk from the last place He held a meeting? The only time the Bible records Christ as using any mode of transportation other than walking is when He rode on the colt of an ass into Jerusalem and allowed Himself to be worshipped as Messiah.

Everyone we see or hear about as heading up a huge congregation or Christian organization, and who command these multimillion dollar salaries are potential targets for an attack by the enemy. Satan and his minions of evil thoroughly enjoy tearing down the lives of those who’ve been elevated to a position of authority and responsibility over the Church.

The wiser of these folks have surrounded themselves with individuals who keep them accountable – walking the “straight and narrow” so to speak. But the “wise in their own mind” crowd, who eschew accountability, it seems are continually attacked and slit open like fish and laid out for public ridicule.

“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

The love of money, the pursuit of money, the drive to gain more and more money as well as material assets has become the major focus of many of those who are at the center of the Christian leadership. Money can and does change lives; as millions of dollars come rolling in, so does the many temptations including those temptations that lead people astray.

Keeping one’s self from those temptations becomes a different type of battle because there are things that people need. But there’s a huge difference between needs and wants. Once the money is available the wants become easy to obtain.

We should remember that God ordains those He wishes, and that that ordination should in no wise place them in a position of wealth and prosperity over the laity. Remember it was Jesus Christ Himself that made the reference to the deeds of those who lorded over His flock as something He hates

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”( Revelation 2:1, 2, 4, 6)

God doesn’t want those whom He placed in positions of leadership over His flock to lord over them as some sort of god, nor does He expect them to flaunt what He’s blest them with. Yes, He has blest many with wealth and they are expected to use that wealth in a godly manner.

When Paul called for a collection it was to provide the saints who were suffering with sustenance. Paul never took a widow’s mite for himself. But he did spread the gospel which is what we are all called to do. We are to spread the Good News to all nations and not lay up our treasures here on earth. People who’ve been so wonderfully blest financially can be such a huge help to God’s Holy Spirit to lend a helping hand, and to use those riches to bring the lost to Christ.

That’s really what being a Christian leader is about. Is it wrong to desire a nice home, nice car, health insurance, retirement account? Not at all. But when desire for wealth becomes – five multimillion dollar mansions strung across the US, a fleet of exotic cars and limousines, and a private jet, that becomes excessive and that Christian leader may already be playing into the enemy’s hands.

Falling from God’s grace can happen to any of Christ’s followers, rich or poor. But it seems the enemy has a special purpose in trying to bring down the church by exposing the fallacies and failures of affluent Christian leaders. It’s as though the enemy is saying to the world that the Christian Church is corrupt and therefore God is unreliable, and that people should find their own way in this world instead of following these corrupt Christian leaders that God has supposedly ordained.

There’s a reason that the following scripture verse is a part of the word of God “…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

Once the love for money becomes our life’s pursuit, the need or desire for a Savior becomes insignificant. The message becomes a message of prosperity instead of a message of hope in the one who can actually save us.

The idea behind evangelism is to promote Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior of mankind. The idea of riches becomes a self-promoting scheme to obtain even more earthly riches. Do we promote Jesus Christ or an incredibly wealthy Christian leader? You need to decide for yourself which of these two very different paths you are going to pursue and follow.

Jesus Christ never pursued earthly wealth while He walked the shores of Galilee or climbed the hills of Judea. They nailed Him to a cross, naked, between two thieves, and there He died. He was buried in someone else’s tomb. But when He ascended into heaven, forty days after He arose from that grave, He left the most wonderful inheritance any of us could ever wish to obtain—a heavenly inheritance that would cost us nothing.

No earthly riches could ever purchase His free gift for us. No overt popularity could ever elevate us to a position of such prominence that we would receive His Heavenly gift through our own works. Jesus paid the price, Jesus is the answer, and Jesus Christ is all we need to get from this life to the one He’s prepared for us.

Personally I’d rather be known as someone who is more like Jesus and less like the world. No amount of money can bring us the peace we can receive by knowing the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Do you know Him? And more importantly, does He know you?

God bless you all,
Ron Graham