by Tad Lindley
Perhaps you saw this meme posted on Facebook. I have seen it before, but it popped up recently as a repost and I thought that I would address it. I want to think that the person posting was sincerely concerned with evil influences destroying the church of God, but I also realize that it is a fairly common strategy for people who are opposed to the Bible to attempt to discredit Christians for possessing money. In many cases, although not all, the angry person has made poor life choices that have left them in a bad financial situation, and they actually are coveting what they have thrown away at the bars, bootleggers, and bingo games. In an attempt to justify their own covetousness, they downgrade Christians with a misguided statement like the very one in FB Christianity Attack File #27.
It sounds true enough, but don’t backslide just yet
When you read a Facebook meme that appears to be quoting the Bible, it is important to 1) see if the quote is actually correct or not, and 2) to see if the context of the Bible reference matches the message. So let’s explore the meme and see if it warrants all of us dropping out of church.
Test 1: Does the Bible even say that?
This is how tricky people are, they will slightly change the wording of a Bible verse in order to make Christians out to be hypocrites. “Money is the root of all evil” sounds like a Bible verse, but it is not. It is based on a real Bible verse, but words have been deleted. Here is what the Bible really says, The love of money is the root of all evil… (I Timothy 6:10). Notice the difference? Money is not the root of all evil, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. When we love money, it becomes our God. The Moe House becomes our house of worship. The baptism that we crave is no longer one of Holy Ghost and fire, but of yelling Bingo on the blackout game. We begin to hate those who have more of it than we do, and we become greedy for more money, even though it might cost us our marriage and our children through a workaholic lifestyle.
Test 2: What is the Biblical context?
The Biblical context examines the entire verse and the passage from which it came. Here is the entire verse that was misquoted in the meme: 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. It comes in the midst of a larger passage that is cautioning us against becoming so wrapped up in the pursuit of money and wealth that we lose our own salvation.
The fact check says this meme is dangerously false
We are sternly cautioned not to change the word of God by adding to it or subtracting from it.
·Deuteronomy 4:2- Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…
·Proverbs 30:6- Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar.
·Revelation 22:19- And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life…
And yet that is exactly what this meme has done, subtracted from the word of God in an attempt to discredit Christians.
Is it wrong for churches to ask for money?
Let me say this: It is sad that churches would ever have to ask for money. Christians should intentionally support the place of gathering, their pastors, evangelists, and missionaries, as well as providing for widows in the church above the age of 60 (see I Timothy 5:9) without ever having to be asked. It is tragic that a pastor would ever have to go on food stamps or collect welfare benefits (if there are 10 families in the church, their tithes alone should prevent the pastor from being on welfare). But what I think doesn’t really matter, let’s look at what the Bible says. In Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (among other places), we read about tithing, as a means of support for the needy and for the priests and Levites. In II Kings 12:4-5, they asked the people to bring money so that they could repair the house of God. In the New Testament they took up an offering to assist the church in Jerusalem who through a failed experiment with Socialism had fallen into serious need (Romans 16:26). Is it wrong for churches to ask for money, absolutely not, but it would be far better if we all gave without being asked.
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.