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March 15 | Mark 12:38-40


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


The Teachers of the Law Compared to the Teachers of Today

by David Thompson


I come from a long line of religious leaders (missionaries, pastors and TV personalities). Today I am going to focus on TV personalities as my uncle, David Mainse, was a famous one that did television across Canada from the 1960s until his death in 2017. His show, "100 Huntley Street," can still be seen daily on satellite TV.


Now what does my namesake have to do with the "teachers of the law" in Mark chapter 12? It is their influence. They were renowned across their entire country and what they said was taken seriously. So why didn't Jesus think much of them? Before I speak to that, I want to take you back to the 1980s. There were two U.S. religious shows that captivated large nationwide audiences. They were Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. There were others, but let's look at these two primarily. Jim and Tammy Bakker were a phenomenon. They influenced hundreds of thousands with their ministry. Jimmy Swaggart, brother of Jerry Lee Lewis, also had a mega-following. They were bigger than life. Just like the teachers of the law from today's passage. The Bakkers let fame and money ruin their ministries, and they disappointed and even crushed people's faith. Likewise Jimmy Swaggart preached morality and let his guard down and was caught in an immoral situation.


Let's look at today's passage. Jesus states that "They (teachers of the law) like to walk around in flowing robes so as to be greeted with respect in the marketplace." They were using their positions for prideful gain. The Life Application Bible points out something that many felt these 1980s preachers were guilty of and unfortunately some of today's TV ministers are no different. They exploited people. They preached one thing and then did another. They preyed on the widows and poor people to give their last bit of money, just like the teachers of the law.


"Give just $10 a month and more if you can afford it." The TV ministers of our age tell those that listen, that God wants to have them give $1,000 "seed" money to their ministry. They even tell them that if they don't have any money to give, give a pledge anyway. Surely then God will return it back to you ten fold. Now I believe God blesses us for our giving. However, we surely don't give only with the motive of getting it back ten times over. Surely, if you give a $1,000, you shouldn't expect $10,000 back. The Bible says that "God loves a cheerful giver." Not a manipulated one who might not be able to pay their monthly bills. We can't paint God into a box, nor can we demand a certain return on our monetary giving. And if that monetary giving takes away from supporting our local church, consider not giving it. Thinking back to the Together campaign, I don't remember Pastor Steve ever saying that we would get ten times your pledge back.


I had lengthy discussions with my uncle on these issues. As a matter of fact, my uncle hosted the PTL Club for a week near the end of Jim and Tammy's ministry. Billy Graham spoke to my uncle about the evil that this ministry was doing to Christ's work. He asked my uncle to take a message to Jim with just this sentiment. You can not justify conning people out of their money for your own reputation and financial gain. If you watch some of today's prominent men and women, ask yourselves whether their lifestyles reflect God and His standards or whether they are more like the religious leaders of the past. Certainly prayerfully give to ministries that are above board. That is your right. But "Watch out for the Teachers of the law" as discussed above.

PRAYER

Dear God, help us discern the motives of those that we watch to see how their lives reflect you and your Son. We are told not to judge, but we can certainly do due diligence before we send our hard earned cash to one of these online or on-the-TV ministries. Pray for God to help you discern without being judgmental. In all we do, let us examine ourselves to see if our motives pass the "sniff" test and that they are not done to puff ourselves up or take advantage of others. In all we do, help us reflect a positive image; one that might bring others closer to You.






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robin.lorms
15 mars

Good afternoon, Dave.

I have always been checked by the promulgation of the lies of "the prosperity gospel." I have often wondered how anyone who only casually reads the Bible could conclude that God always wants to prosper us. Tell that to some of our UALC families struggling to make ends meet or the widow who has lost her life savings in a financial scam. Our prosperity is assured eternally but not in this life.

I especially appreciate your firm stance on this issue leaving no doubt in the reader's mind that such theology is not of God.


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