Do we serve God or mammon? In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, the apostle Paul writes that he had been "approved by God and entrusted with the gospel." These words coming from a man who was the biggest "church-raiser" in his time is powerful stuff.
Let's take a moment to apply those words to our lives today:
When we choose to follow God we get His stamp of approval. And not only that, God gives us the gospel. He entrusts us with it, not so that we can keep it to ourselves, but so that we can take it to every part of the world and share it with others (Matthew 28:19).
It's the second part of the verse that's really thought-provoking: "we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests the heart." In other words, are we working to please God or mammon?
There is a rise of charismatic preachers whose every message is that God wants us to be prosperous and wealthy here on earth. Yes, God wants the very best for us, that's true. But it's so much more than that.
While there are many verses that tell us that He has great plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11, John 10:10, Deuteronomy 28:12-13), His desire is that we will be obedient to His leading in every aspect of our lives (I Samuel 15:22, Matthew 6:33, Acts 5:29).
Paul is that apostle who is known for having suffered many things for the sake of the gospel. But he wasn't the only one - Jeremiah, Hosea, Stephen, John, and so many others also suffered because they accepted Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God.
As we get closer and closer to the end of the ages, how dare we believe that we will be excluded from suffering!
The Bible tells us that in the last days men will have "itching ears" (II Timothy 4:3) and it seems as though that time is now. Pastors no longer preach about judgement because they are so busy telling us that God wants us to be rich.
Now I'm not saying I agree with those who only speak fire and brimstone, but we need to show a complete picture of God's nature.
We serve a loving, merciful Savior, but His patience with our provocations will not last forever. At some point we will have to face judgement for what we have done.
We need to get to that point where we are honored to be a part of the Great Commission. We need to start telling people about Jesus and how He died to save us from our sins.
We need to be more like Jeremiah who spoke the truth of God's word (however unpleasant) because not doing so caused him to feel like there was a "fire shut up in his bones" (Jeremiah 20:9), and less like Hananiah who told the people what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 28:1-4).
We need to reclaim Paul's philosophy and serve to please God and not man. Because, ultimately, only God is able to judge us. He tests our motives (Jeremiah 17:10) and knows the heart (Psalm 44:21).
Lord, remind of our first love. It's easy to fall into the trap of people-pleasing but help us to speak only those things that come from You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Have you found yourself falling into the "prosperity message" trap? Write down some Bible verses that show that God wants the best for you, but also write some that show that God deserves our worship.
Linking up at Suzanne Eller's #LiveFreeThursday.