I watched the preacher walk back and forth across the stage, yelling into the microphone. His eyes were ablaze and an eerie grin spanned his face. It was like watching a carnival sideshow. The experience made me uneasy, and I sat on the edge of my seat. My mind said go, get away from this man, he’s losing his mind. But, just like at the sideshow, I couldn’t look away.

He quoted from the Bible, then offered his own commentary, which is not a bad thing, as long as it agrees with God. However, his commentary was about money, and how if we gave him ours, God would bless us with more money. Everything he said led back to money, mostly him wanting ours. I thought if God would bless me with more money if I gave the preacher mine. Then why couldn’t the preacher just get his money from God? After all, that would cut out the middleman. He wouldn’t have to spend his time on stage asking all those folks for money. But that wouldn’t work. God is not an ATM. However, the preacher had learned how to use his flock as an ATM. Now that’s convenient and very profitable for the already wealthy multi-millionaire preacher.

I sat watching the audience look upon the preacher in awe, hanging on his every word. At that moment, I discovered the obvious. The rich preacher never once preached Jesus to the crowd. Not one time did he mention the way unto salvation. He said nothing about the consequences of sin or the need for repentance. Why did he avoid preaching the gospel? How could he send these people home without feeding them the bread of life? Then it hit me. He didn’t really care about those people. All He wanted was their money.

He continued speaking, becoming influenced by his own words. He worked himself and the audience into a frenzy. At one point, the preacher stopped center stage, starred at the audience, laughed hysterically, then yelled at the top of his lungs, “MONEY, COMETH, TO ME!”. The crowd roared.

My jaw dropped into my lap, and I thought, what would Jesus say if He were here. I believe He may have quoted (Luke 12:15) “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Jesus might remind him of (Proverbs 23:4-5) “I tell you, Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” He would definitely remind him of this (Mark 10:25), “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Jesus would likely remind the preacher (Acts 20:35), “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The preacher may hear these words (Hebrews 13:16), “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” I have to believe the Lord would mention (Proverbs 19:17), “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

One thing I’m positive about, the Lord would tell the preacher (Galatians 1:6-9), “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Why? Because he didn’t say a word about salvation in Christ and was not preaching the truth according to scripture. No, all he was selling was the hope of wealth and health. Well, those are nice things to have, if we use them right, but they won’t get one soul right with God. If we’re not right with the Lord, then heaven is not our home, and that’s where we want to be when this life is over.

There’s nothing wrong with having money unless it’s only used to get more or to satisfy worldly desires. In that case, it’s not being used to glorify God or to build up His body, or lift others up out of poverty, or any other good work the Lord speaks about in scripture. When it’s stored up and not shared with those in need, that’s not honoring the One who provides all good things.

When it’s used only to satisfy the self, then it has become an idol. Surely, you know what God says about idols.