A notorious prosperity preacher from Atlanta has recently come under even more intense criticism. Creflo Dollar asked 200,000 people to donate $300 each in order to raise $65 million to purchase a private jet for his work. Creflo is widely reported to be worth an estimated $27 million.
In spite of the opulence he chooses to lavish on himself, this multimillionaire makes no apology for piling up a personal fortune. Creflo's appetite for luxury and excessive indulgence seems insatiable.
Prosperity preachers could learn a lot from the example of Pastor Rick Warren. Rick is a "reverse tither" who gives away 90% of his income. Few Christians have such strong faith when it comes to their finances, and Creflo Dollar would have to learn how to crawl before he could walk with the likes of Rick Warren.
But Creflo could make great strides if he were to reduce his net worth to say, $2 million dollars, while giving away most of his fortune to the needy. Such generosity would indicate something noble within his heart. Of course it would be even better to reduce his net worth to $200,000. But that would be quite a stretch for a man who has so often boasted of his wealth and material possessions.
Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24) The Lord regularly warned people about the love of money.
Creflo Dollar said, "The money in my pocket is not mine, it's God's." But his financial decisions clearly refute that claim. If the money in his pocket truly belonged to God, then Creflo would no longer hoard it. And he wouldn't continue spending millions of dollars on his materialistic fantasies.
The contents of Creflo's pocket will continue to speak volumes about the love of his life. Even if he doesn't give away $15-20 million of his fortune over the next year, he could at least start moving in that honorable direction. The path to godliness and freedom will involve crawling, and then walking, and then running.
But you cannot even crawl without first being born. As Jesus said, "You must be born again." (John 3:7) This is the foundation of Christianity. Jesus never taught people to pursue material prosperity and store it in their pocket. In fact, Christ taught just the opposite: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." (Matthew 6:19)
Jesus said, "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." (Matthew 19:24) Why? Because most rich people love what is in their pocket, and so they refuse to part with it.
Jesus also said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) In other words, what you choose to keep in your pocket reveals the love of your life. You constantly think about your lover because she has your heart. The proof is seen in the accumulation of your possessions. ("your treasure")
If you want to know what is in someone's heart, just listen to him speak. Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34) You would be hard pressed to find a religious leader in America who talks about money and material possessions more than Creflo Dollar. People talk about the things they love.
And people spend their money on the things they love. Speech and spending always reveal quite a love story.
Jesus once told a rich man, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:21,2)
The young man was unable to follow Jesus because he was unwilling to part with his beloved possessions. Jesus knew what was in this man's heart and that he was hoarding money. Christ told the man to choose between his wealth and the Lord. The man chose to continue hoarding riches rather than to follow Christ.
Creflo Dollar still has time to reverse course and dump his lover. And if that happens, he can finally stop lusting after luxury cars, mansions, and private jets. Instead, he will spend his time thinking about the Lord and how to help people experience true righteousness.
In all honesty, it's hard to imagine this prosperity preacher turning away from his mistress of materialism. And yet it's like Jesus said: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
If Creflo makes the difficult choice to empty his pocket for the benefit of the needy, the Lord can instantly begin filling his soul with true riches and living water. (see John 7:38,39) But for the time being, the fortune being stored in Creflo's pocket is preventing his soul from prospering, not to mention the souls of those who have come under the spell of his "you can be rich like me" appeals.
It is interesting that 99.9% of those who follow prosperity preachers never seem to reap the Rolls-Royce, the mansion, or the private jet. Those luxuries are reserved for the guy up on stage making the smooth-talking sales pitch. And his expensive toys get paid for by thousands of hardworking people. Many of them earn minimum wage while dreaming about hitting the big one just like their prophet.
You see, there is something even worse than a religious leader storing up treasure in his pocket. It's when he entices thousands of other people to lust after his affluence with the goal that one day they can be just like him.