Supposing gain is godliness

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 1 Timothy 6:1-5

There are those who preach that God rewards obedience with material blessings. They will tell you how they used to drive around in beat-up, death-trap cars, but now that they’ve served God all these years, God has given them nice cars. They will tell you that they used to live in a run-down house with a leaky roof or a cockroach-infested apartment but now live in a nice house because God rewarded their faithfulness. Tell that to Lazarus (Luke 16) who desired and begged for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Our rewards are not earthly. Read Hebrews 11 and see how all those Old Testament saints looked for a building and foundation not made with hands – how they looked for the heavenly, not the earthly.

Look at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. The servant given the ten talents was not mentioned as one who had served God more faithfully than the one given five talents or the servant given one talent. The talents were not given out based on faithfulness or obedience. Why were they distributed as they were? The talents were a test of the servants’ faithfulness – not a reward for it. When the master returned, he was looking to see what each servant had done with what he had given him. If the talents were a reward, the master wouldn’t care. But the master did care because he was testing the servants. The servants who passed the test heard “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

I once heard about a missionary who went to a foreign field and he would not live in huts like the natives. He would not dress like the natives. He said his reason for doing so was because he wanted them to desire what he had. He was supposing that gain was godliness. He was preaching a false gospel. He may have been preaching the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but he was still preaching a false gospel because he was trying to show the natives that if they came to Christ, their material possessions would be changed. Should people who come to the United States look at what Bill Gates or Donald Trump have and then worship their god? Those two have more money and possessions than any Christian I know. If the missionary was using that logic to get people to come to Christ, shouldn’t we expect people to want the false god of Bill Gates and Donald Trump? God never promises us material blessings. He makes it to rain on the just and the unjust. The Lord instructed his disciples to take neither purse, scrip, nor shoes when they went about preaching the gospel. Even the Lord had no place to lay his head. God’s rewards are not material and using the material to draw people is a false gospel.

Christ came to save us from our sins. He did not die so that we could have wealth and prosperity in this world. We need to look to the heavenly. We need to withdraw from those who preach the false gospel of material blessings. And those who point back to the old covenant promises of prosperity and blessings also need to look at the promises of cursings. Thankfully, we are under a new and better covenant, but that is a topic for another day.

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