"Sow a seed into my ministry by writing a cheque for R1000, and God will give you a 100-fold return."
MARK 12: 38 - 44, 13: 1 - 2
Then he said to them in His teaching,
'Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.'
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.
Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which made a quadrans.
So He called His disciples to Him and said to them,
'Assuredly , I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;
for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.
Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!'
And Jesus answered and said to him,'Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.'
In Jesus' earthly ministry, He came across the abuse of church authority with respect to finances. This always creeps in when the church backslides.
And if you read about the dark ages, the church became very decadent under some very very apostate popes who led it – some of them – your hair stands on end when you read what some of those popes did and the lifestyles they lived. It was complete decadent.
What happened – the church was selling indulgences – so if you wanted to sin – say you wanted to commit adultery – then you would go to the local priest and you would pay him and he would give you an indulgence and that would allow you to go and have a sin – so they used to make a lot of money out of selling indulgences.
Not only that – they used to have their little friars going through town with a box and a bell and they would ring the bell and say, O one gold sovereign brings a soul from hell. O one gold sovereign and a soul gets released from purgatory. So then you could then buy the salvation of your dead relatives.
What you could do is throw a gold coin in the box and the moment the gold coin hits the bottom of the box, that soul comes out of hell and of course the church made a lot of money and the church became very apostate – backslidden – and very grievous to God and God started to work with a young man by the name - he was an Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther.
Martin Luther was very angry when a friar came into his town asking for money, promising spiritual favours so that a lavish cathedral could be built. Although the main thrust was not of this abuse, but that this abuse hindered the common folk from entering the kingdom of God and knowing salvation.
And Martin Luther took his theses - he nailed it to the door of Wittenberg - and a whole reformation took place in the German speaking world - spread through Europe - an incredible revival as God started to restore the church.
Today the same abuse has crept in.
The most prevalent abuse is in the teaching of seed-faith and Christian television is the most powerful medium to propagate this teaching.
Seed faith and the promise of blessings and breakthroughs if money is first sown into ministries is a common practice today. It is most prevalent in the Word-faith centred ministries.
However, this is not limited to the Word-faith movement. It has spread throughout the charismatic world. Just as the unbalanced faith has spread to all charismatics, so has the practice concerning finances.
Are we not devouring the poor? And what of the widow who gives her mite? Can we justify lavish lifestyles financed from the mites that have been given to God for the furtherance of His gospel?
The context links 'devouring widows' with 'the widow's mite' and with 'buildings'.
This abuse of the saints most often affects the poor. They suffer the most. Jesus used the widow as an illustration of what He meant when He stated that the religious leaders were devouring widows. Afterwards, the glorious lavish temple building came into the spotlight. This was the reason for the devouring of the widows. To build lavish church buildings and auditoriums.
And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.'
Why? Judgment came not primary because of this abuse, but because they had a wrong foundation. Jesus Christ was not truly their foundation. This is merely fruit of having the wrong foundation.