Exploiting God

JESUS SPEAKING

            So they came to Jerusalem.  Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.  And he would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.  Then he taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  But you have turned it in to a ‘den of thieves.’”

            And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy him; for they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his teaching. (Mark 11: 15-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The priests and religious leaders were earning money from the sale of sacrificial animals within the temple.  They were also earning money from ‘short changing’ ignorant pilgrims who needed to exchange their Roman or Greek coins for non-pagan shekels (tithes of pagan coins were not accepted within the temple treasury.)  Those professing the highest degree of Godliness had been using God for selfish gain; those who prided themselves on ritualistic purity had defiled and perverted the purity of God’s Holy Dwelling Place.  Upon seeing this disgraceful sight, Jesus became angry; he flipped over the money changing tables, and used a whip to aggressively chase out those who were selling animals in God’s house.  No one arrested him; no one rebuked him; no one demanded an explanation; the crowds instantly recognized that what he had done was right.  He had put an end to wicked men using God for their own financial gain.  [Note:  This incident occurred several days before the Passover celebration.  The Israelites were strictly forbidden to have even a single speck of Chametz (fungus or mold) within their homes during the feast.  As part of the preparation for this annual festival, every Jewish home had to be swept out and thoroughly cleansed.  Jesus, being God’s son, chose to fulfill this command by sweeping the dirt out of his Father’s house (the temple.)]

            The religious leaders had mingled together the things of God and the things of man. Jesus’ whip sliced ‘in-two’ what should have never been ‘one’ to begin with.  His anger set right the divine order of things.  On one occasion in my own life, I felt the sting of God’s whip when I attempted to combine his goodness with my gain.  Many years ago I worked for a company that imported raw materials for kitchen and bathroom countertops. I handled numerous accounts, but was always on the lookout for any potentially new customers.  In my search I came across a large local company named, ‘Reborn Cabinets.’  (Cabinet makers always needed granite to complete their projects, and my company was a granite supplier.)  This cabinet company was started by a ‘reborn Christian;’ I myself had recently been ‘reborn,’ and I was anxious to work with a Christian company.  After many attempts to set up a meeting with their company had failed, I made one final attempt to reach them.  One day, I left a message with their manager expressing my desire to work with them; I finished the message with a ‘God bless you.’  I had hoped that they would hear the message and realize I was a Christian and give me a chance.  Immediately after hanging up the phone, I felt this pain in my stomach and an overwhelming feeling of remorse within my heart.  I had angered God, and grieved His Holy Spirit by attempting to use Him for my own worldly advancement.  After the feeling began to affect my workday, I made my way to the bathroom to pray; filled with remorse, I promptly begged God for His forgiveness.

            Today, there are a lot of people who need to drop to their knees and beg God for His forgiveness.  Too many people have sullied the name of the Almighty God in order to attain their own personal comforts.  Many ‘Christian businessmen,’ more dedicated to a dollar than to keeping God Holy, plague the body of Christ, using the name of God to secure customers.  Similarly, many people use God to increase their standing in the community.  Many use God to make themselves more attractive to a potential husband or wife.  Some use God to ‘pride-fully’ compare themselves favorably to others.  There are an endless number of possible exploitations of God’s name, but each and every one of them kindles His anger.  Of all the sins in the bible, using God for worldly prosperity arouses the greatest amount of divine fury; as such, we must continually, and fearfully, examine our hearts to make sure that we are not guilty of such sins.  If we discover any uncleanness in our hearts, we must beg God for His forgiveness, and ask Him to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You reveal and convict our hearts of any instances where we have misused Your name for our own personal gain.  We desperately desire to be free from these grievous sins; give us the power to change what we have been doing, and sweep out any dirtiness within our hearts.  Make us clean, and fresh, and new Lord.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.       

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