False Doctrine About the Holiness of Poverty
False doctrine, as used here, is a reference to inaccurate teachings about what the Bible says. Specifically, we will be looking at inaccurate teachings related to biblical prosperity. This article will briefly discuss three of the more popular false teachings.
1. Money is the root of evil. I Timothy 6:10 is often used as a proof text for money being the root of evil. This is false doctrine. As we read I Timothy 6:6-10, we ought to make several notes.
First, the text doesn't say nor teach that money is the root of evil. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. You can have money without having love of money.
Second, the text teaches that the path of seeking to be rich has many dangerous temptations along the way. Many have yielded to the temptations. However, everyone has not yielded to the temptation. It is dangerous to ride a motorcycle. But many have done it without injury.
Third, I do believe that aiming to be rich for the sake of simply spending more on yourself and to stop working or doing anything constructive is sin. With riches, you can be a great blessing to others (see Mt. 25:31-46). In fact, to whom much is given much is required (see Lk. 12:48).
2. Jesus set the example for our poverty. Some suggest that Jesus' apparent poverty is the ideal situation for all believers. This is a false doctrine. They would say that He was too poor to purchase a room, and that is why He was born in a manager. The reality is that Luke 2:7 simply says there was no room for them.
As for money, one can assume that if they went to the inn for a room, they must have had some means of paying for the room. Remember they went to Bethlehem to pay taxes. Poor people don't have anything to tax.
It is true that Matthew 8:20 teaches that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head; however, this did not mean that He did not have a place to live, while He ministered on Earth.
He did not have a permanent place because He was not a permanent citizen. He knew that His time was not long on Earth. However, notice in John 1:38-39 that He showed His Capernaum dwelling to His disciples.
Another idea to counter the poverty of Jesus is that He had a treasurer, money in the treasury, people who supported Him, and a habit of giving to the poor. John 12:4-6 supports that Judas was the treasurer, even though he was a crook. Luke 8:1-3 supports people gave to finance Jesus' ministry.
Finally notice at Jesus' death that His coat was so special and by implication expensive that the soldiers cast lots for it, so they would not destroy it.
This is not how working class soldiers would act towards the rags of a poor religious leader. But it is what they would do for what we might see as a cashmere, leather, or fur coat.
The poverty of Jesus is suspect. Jesus was at least working class, and had His ministry been that of business, we can be assured that He would have worked to be as successful at that as He was at being the Savior of the world.
3. Blessed are the poor. Some would go so far as to suggest that when Matthew 5:3 teaches that "blessed are the poor" that somehow poverty is a blessed situation. Surely, God can bless a person, in spite of his/her poverty.
You can be saved and content although you are dead broke. However, to suggest that poverty is the normal will of God for His people is false doctrine.
Some will be poor for any number of reasons. Some will be exploited by the rich and powerful. Some will be poor stewards of their expertise and opportunities. Some may be poor as punishment for sin. And some will be poor because of a combination of the above.
And "yes" God loves the poor. However, when we are urged to take care of the poor (see Pro. 19:17) there is at least a mild implication that we need to be far enough above poverty that we can bless those who are less fortunate.
How can a poor Christian help another poor Christian or non-believer, when the person they are trying to help is hungry (see Jm. 2:15-17)?
It is true that there is a danger of building bigger barns for our own selfish reasons and ignore God's will and plan for our lives. Such living is foolish (see Lk. 12:16-21).
However, one can be a prosperous and generous Christian, as in I Timothy 6:17-19. Prosperous Christians have a duty to be a greater blessing to others than poor Christians. The holiness of poverty is a false doctrine. One's heart is more of an issue than one's prosperity.
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