Manipulation in the Name of Blessings
Why this article?
We respect men and women of God. But we oppose the way in which many (not all) of the popular evangelists (especially through the medium of television) ask for money.
A few things make us worried about this:
One, guilty feelings are created in many Christians because they can’t give the amounts asked for. The Bible says there are people who make others feel guilty with a word–Ref. Isaiah 29:21 NIV.
Second, though some people give money, blessings don’t come as expected or promised by the evangelists. Then they feel depressed. Remember, it is not God who promised these blessings, but these evangelists. Please also remember that God cannot bless you (finance included) if you live in sin and disobedience. These evangelists never ask you to repent of your sins and set your heart right with God. How can God bless a disobedient child? He cannot because He cannot violate the principles of obedience and blessing which He has taught in His Word (the Bible). Think about it. God promises blessings only IF you OBEY His commandments.
Third, there are at least some (not all) Christian organizations who don’t value the sacrificial giving of people. They sometimes don’t acknowledge the contribution given or spend it on some other cause than specified by the donor. We believe that donors have a right to know how their money has been utilized. It would be good if these organizations read what is written: “This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt” [author’s emphasis] (1 Samuel 2:17 NIV).
Fourth, many times instead of a “thank you” note for the contribution, what comes along with the receipt is a cover asking for more: “The leech has two daughters. `Give!’ `Give!’ they cry” (Proverbs 30:15 NIV).
Fifth, dear Christian readers, please know that money and wealth are not standards by which you can judge blessings in the life of a believer.
Think about Jesus and Paul: Going by the definition of these super-apostles on blessing and success, Jesus’ life was not blessed because he did not have a place to lay his head. And Jesus’ life was a miserable failure because he suffered and was crucified and therefore cannot be counted blessed. Again, by their definition of blessing and success, Paul, from whose writings they quote, was a miserable failure because he was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, persecuted, felt the sentence of death within himself, had fears, in danger from many, gone without sleep often, had known hunger and thirst, was left cold and naked at times and put in prison for preaching the gospel! He also worked for a living and did not utilize the privilege of a servant of God to live out of the gospel! He also had a “thorn in the flesh” which God did not remove even after he prayed thrice.
Dear Readers, think about Jesus and Paul. How did they live? Just compare the lifestyles of today’s popular evangelists with them. Then you will come to some startling conclusions!
When someday all of us will stand before Christ, these “super-apostles” will have to answer many charges.
- Did they preach the cross and the blood of Christ to lead people to salvation? If the cross is not preached, then the gospel they preach is some other gospel. Paul said: “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23 NIV). Paul never preached a “popular” gospel. But today’s super-apostles preach a Christianity without a cross and keep asking for money all the time. Though there is nothing wrong with asking for money, the way many of them do it is manipulation (see point 3 below for more on manipulation).
- These “super-apostles” never understand how much negatively the picture Jesus Christ and the Church through television to non-Christian audiences. Christians have no answer when non-Christians come and ask their opinion about what they hear and see on television. The Bible says: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5 NIV). Here, “make the most of every opportunity” means make use of every opportunity to proclaim the gospel. Others who are not Christians should never get the impression that “gospel” means “appeal for money.” Sadly, that is the impression that many Christian television programs have created in the minds of non-Christian audiences.
- God will demand of these super-apostles an accounting of their manipulation.
Manipulation means to control or influence somebody in a dishonest way so that those who are influenced do not realize it.
Here there needs to be a clarification: It is not wrong to ask for money. But it is the WAY they ask that creates the problem. It is called manipulation. By inducing fear and guilt in the minds of Christians, by promising them blessings, health and wealth, the super-apostles of today raise money. We condemn these wrong ways of asking for money.
So, it is not wrong to ask for money. For God Himself appealed to His people to give. But then God had said: “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give”[author’s emphasis] (Exodus 25:2 NIV). See, there is no manipulation here.
What about Paul. He also said: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV). Paul emphasized the freedom of a man to choose the amount he wanted to give (but today amounts are dictated by many television evangelists). He also emphasized that a person should not give reluctantly or under compulsion (but today we find evangelists compelling people to give).
Paul was also very practical. He said, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, [author’s emphasis] so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NIV). He did not specify the amount. He said that the amount given should be according to each person’s (in today’s context, maybe family’s) income. He also added that it can be saved up to be of use in a greater need of the Church.
Today, when television evangelists compel people to give, they specify amounts which many Christians may find not compatible with their income. Thus these evangelists make people miserable. Again, when they use words like: “See, if you get a busy tone, keep trying. Don’t go away. Your blessing will come when you make the connection with the prayer partners here. When you get connected pledge this amount, … etc.” This is manipulation. And it is wrong.
The Right Way
Asking for money is fine as long as it is done in a godly and prayerful way. Our God is one who searches minds and hearts and motives. He will know with what intent money is being asked for. Your responsibility is to pray much before you give. You will have to be assured in your heart that the amount you give, and the person or ministry to which you give is exactly where God wants you to give at that point of time. Never give under compulsion. Never give when you feel manipulated.
A Word of Comfort
A word of comfort to all those who have given in the past and had bitter experiences: Please know that your God; He is the Lord of the harvest. He knows the honesty and integrity and motive of your heart with which you gave. He has seen your tears. And though the person or ministry to whom you gave has misused your money, your reward is with God. And someday He will set accounts straight.
Therefore, be encouraged, and continue to give to God prayerfully. Let not your past bitterness prevent you from being a blessing to others.
A Final Word
The truth is that God sent Jesus to this world not to bless you or me financially. The great purpose of God in sending Jesus to this world was to provide forgiveness of sins to people through His blood shed on the cross. Jesus Himself said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). When this focus is taken away, the entire power and purpose of the gospel is lost (Please note that Jesus rebuked Peter when he tried to take this focus away from Him–Ref. Matthew 16:23, Mark 8:33). Let Him bless or let Him not bless as far as money is concerned. That is not the real question at all as many television evangelists try to make you believe. Think about this: What good it is to have every blessing if you cannot enjoy God’s love or presence in your life?
Yes, the focus of the entire Bible is Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Remember, it is the blood of Jesus that has blessed you. Money can never do it for you. That is why Jesus asked: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25 NIV). So, do not wear yourself out to get rich (Ref. Proverbs 23:4,5). But focus your life on Jesus Christ. He is your true and everlasting wealth!