By Gavin Aleogho
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's (Church’s or Ministry’s) life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." Luke 12:15-21 NIV emphasis added.
I heard a pathetic information from Pastor SundayAdelaja which he gave while he was teaching on a series about “The Prostitution of Tithe and Offering inthe Church”, a message which I will highly recommend to you. He spoke of classified information he got from a bank staff in Nigeria, of the huge amount of cash that lays fallow in the bank account of a Church in Nigeria. This banker was privileged to the information because he manages the account. The story has it that while this Church is rich with billions of naira, most of her zealous members are wallowing in poverty.
Upon hearing this, I tend to ask how many of our Churches have huge amount of cash laying fallow in one account somewhere or in a hidden place, whereas there are lots of challenges in the society where these Churches are located. Besides, majority of the people bringing the Money into these Churches in the name of tithe, offering and seeds, are wallowing in abject poverty. You should wonder if these Churches are gathering the money to be taken to heaven to spend there!
There is no doubt that there are Churches that are getting it right in helping their members in needs and assisting the less privileged, but most Churches have crossed the line from just saving to meet recurring expenses, to Hoarding because there is actually a thin line between saving and hoarding.
So, what is the difference between saving and hoarding? When does a Church or an individual cross the boundary? For in the real sense both are acts of keeping away money.
Saving is keeping away money in order to delay consumption, like meeting specific needs or for investment purpose. Saving is cutting present unnecessary expenditure to meet a vital need in the future. Saving money is putting cash away and letting the cash make money for you. Saving is done with a purpose in mind.
However, hoarding is keeping away money because of a mindset that there will be shortage or lack of money in the future. It can be referred to as “withholdeth more than is meet” according to Proverbs 11:24. It springs from a belief that today would be better than tomorrow instead of the reverse. Hoarding comes from a scarcity or not-enough mindset which leads an individual or organization to resist spending money even on the things that are vital and essential.
Hoarding is coming from a heart of greed and lack of faith but fear. Hoarding in Churches is a sin that will take many General Overseers, Pastors, Evangelists and Ministers of the gospel to hell. Hoarding is a negative attitude to wealth it gives the wrong impression that the earth is a permanent abode. Hoarding is an abuse of God’s blessings and an insult to the people who brought in the gift or offering.
Can we say that the ‘rich fool’ who was referred to in Luke 12:16-21 was hoarding or saving? He was definitely planning to hoard. If he was only saving, he would not have been condemned by the Lord because God supports saving.
Signs that show he was hoarding are these:
1. He was saving without faith in God for provision for the future; This is similar to what some Churches are doing today. They fear that they might not be able to have enough resources to handle the expenses of the future like salary of workers and compulsory expenditures of the future. This fear pushes them to hoard money, whereas there are immediate and urgent needs of members that should have been attended to.
2. He was only concerned about himself; He was not concerned about other people like the poor, fatherless, widows and less privileged. This is similar to what some Church Leaders are practising; they focus solely on themselves while neglecting the poor and needy.
3. He was taking pride in what he thought his strength has given him without acknowledging the God-factor; When you think that everything you have is from God, you will easily give it out, compared to when you think your strength has given you what you have. When a Church agrees that what she has is only a blessing from the Lord, it would be easy to give out, knowing that the same God will do likewise in the future.
4. He was only rich towards himself and not towards God; A man can only be rich towards God when he lays up treasures for himself by helping the poor and needy around. I’ve heard some brethren boast about the wealth of their ministries, the question for such is this, is their ministry rich towards God or towards men? What is the use of a Church’s wealth if it doesn’t change or add value to the congregation of the same and the society around?
5. He was called a fool; Why? Simply because he was depending on his wealth for the future and not on the God who provides the wealth. He had a misplaced priority that is why he was called a fool.
Jesus said “as long as I am in the world I am the light of the world”. That should be our mission statement as Christ Ambassadors “as long as we are in the world, we are (not the government) the light of the world”. So, quit saying it is the responsibility of the government or it is the responsibility of their family members. The Church is the only organization that is referred to as the “light of the world” and not the government or anyone else. So, let’s give light to the world with our good works.
The irony of this is even when most Churches claim to be using the inflow of cash judiciously, when you scrutinize such claims, you will realize that the Churches are using more of the money for property development instead of human development. As if the primary purpose of Christ dying on the cross is for Churches to have the largest and finest edifices and properties.
Christ died for man. Man and not property is, and should be the centre of everything that we do in Christianity. Our spending as a Church should be targeted at helping and restoring man to God’s original state. Besides, human development and not property development is the only known development that can last the test of time. So, our spending as a Church should be focused more on human development than material things.
Jesus should be our example, the Scriptures in 2 Corinthians 8:9 reads that: For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. This is like Jesus Christ emptying “His bank account” for us so that we can come out of our poverty. Are we not supposed to follow this footstep of Christ as His body which is the Church, by emptying ourselves to making others rich and great?
Let’s show the world the love of God by using our God-given wealth.