Jeremiah declared, "An appalling and horrible thing bringing desolation and destruction has come to pass in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests exercise rule at their own hands and by means of the prophets. AND MY PEOPLE LOVE TO HAVE IT SO! But what will you do when the end comes?" (Jer. 5:30-31)
Bizarre and unethical gimmicks have been used by churches and ministries throughout the generations to raise money. Why do God's people continue to accept these ungodly practices? If you listen to Christian television or radio you have probably heard the schemes I am refering to more than once. What has happened to godly discernment? So often on these programs a minister opens the Bible, reads a passage, then suggests that you send an amount of money to keep your favorite program on the air. He begs, pleads and often cries, telling you to hurry and give, while God is stirring the waters, because the Holy Spirit will reward you in an special way. Often different amounts of money are suggested, such as $100.00, or $250.00, $500.00, or $1000.00 to correlate with some obscure Old Testament Scripture reference. The implication is that if you write a check for this magical amount, God will release some kind of special blessing on you, such as the salvation of loved ones or the quick sale of a house.
For, assuming the earnest willingness, the gift is acceptable according to whatever a man has, and not according to what he has not. I do not urge you to give in order that others may have relief while you are unduly pressed, but that, by equalization of burdens, your superfluity having in the present emergency supplied their deficiency, their superfluity may in turn be a supply for your deficiency later on, so that there may be equalization of burdens. Even as it is written, "HE WHO GATHERED MUCH HAD NOT TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO GATHERED LITTLE HAD NOT TOO LITTLE." (2Co. 8:12-15)
To the untrained ear this hoopla may sound like a formula for blessing. However, it is not even remotely biblical. Many in the charismatic movement are so used to tolerating such shenanigans that they think this is standard procedure for fundraising. Some ministers who raise money for Christian television stations have succumbed to the infamous debt reduction tactic. It goes like this: God says that if you will give a $1,000 sacrificial offering right now, you will supernaturally get out of debt! The miracle anointing is here! You can release it by writing that check! Yes, we also take credit cards! This kind of manipulation is actually against the law in Canada. The U.S. government allows the church to get away with such witchcraft, but that does not mean it is right. It is a religious form of arm-twisting. And believe it or not, it is getting more blatant and bizarre.
I have heard a traveling minister give a message that he called "The Boaz Anointing." He then invited anyone who wanted this blessing upon their life to come to the altar, where he encouraged them to deposit a check for $1,500 in the basket. It makes it appear that "The Boaz Anointing" can belong to anyone who can afford such a hefty price. In a church in the northeast, a self-proclaimed prophetess said that she would pronounce a personal word of blessing over any person who could give $1,000 in the offering. That is correct, she was selling personal prophecies. Those who actually gave the amount stood up to receive personal words from this charlatan. They have fallen into the error of Simon, the sorcerer, who offered to buy the power of the Holy Spirit so that he could impress people. (Acts 8:18-20) These shenanigans make me want to rip my shirt off and throw dust on my head. Why should we be surprised that the church in America is making such a weak impact on society when we are allowing greedy impostors to pollute our pulpits and souls? These charlatans are no different than the sons of Eli, who took the people's offerings by force so that they could spend it on their own selfish desires. (1Sa. 2:12-16)
"Let each contribute what he has decided upon in his own mind, and not do it reluctantly or under compulsion. 'IT IS A CHEERFUL GIVER THAT GOD LOVES.' And God is able to bestow every blessing on you in abundance, so that richly enjoying all sufficiency at all times, you may have ample means for all good works. As it is written, 'HE HAS SCATTERED ABROAD, HE HAS GIVEN TO THE POOR, HIS ALMSGIVING REMAINS FOR EVER.' And God who continually supplies seed for the sower and bread for eating, will supply you with seed and multiply it, and will cause your almsgiving to yield a plentiful harvest. May you be abundantly enriched so as to show all liberality, such as through our instrumentality brings thanksgiving to God." (2Co 9:7-11)
What happens to the people who buy into this craziness? I have heard some suggest that God will bless anyone who gives, even if they give to a thief. Hogwash! Seed must be sown in good ground if it is going to produce. Those who use manipulation, strong-arm tactics or Scripture-twisting to get money, or who sell the anointing of God so they can buy clothes and houses are not going to release any form of blessing. In fact, they just might release curses of poverty, bankruptcy, fraud and confusion. Such dark forces actually follow ministries that have given themselves over to this spirit of financial manipulation. The Bible says that those charlatans, who follow the error of Balaam, will face a judgment in dense darkness of age-long duration. (Jude 11-13). What can we do to correct the problem? We do not have to stop giving, as some suppose. Remember. "GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER." (2Co. 9:7) However, he does not want us to give under compulsion, but willingly as we make up our own mind to do so. Moreover, God does not want us to reward the modern sons of Eli. Speak out. Confront those who misuse the Bible to dig for wallets to get money. Get up and walk out. Give to ministries that focus on meeting real needs and maintain ethical accounting standards. This financial foolishness will end when all of us take a stand for what is ethical and godly.