THE GREATEST TURNOFF IN RELIGION
by George H. Kemnitz
Do you dare read this penetrating article? This subject could
offend you, as it has millions! yet it is one of the most
important topics for today's Christian.
People talk about it all the time. Housewives talk about it.
Husbands talk about it. Our children talk about it. Employers
talk about it. Employees talk about it. It's constantly being
talked about on television, on radio, and in magazines and
newspapers. Schools talk about it. Government talks about it.
Business talks about it. But as soon as Religion talks about
money - everyone, it seems, gets turned off!
When Religion brings up the subject of money, people get
edgy. They feel uncomfortable. They squirm in their seats.
People even get upset, and sometimes hostile. And, usually
always, suspicious. When a minister of the Gospel talks
about needs, money, stewardship, or giving, immediately people
react negatively. "Ah-hal He's after my money!"
Why the negative attitude? Why the "turn off"? Why the
People will spend literal hours in front of their TV sets,
watching and listening to multiple billions of dollars of
advertisements - and subjecting themselves to every conceivable
sales gimmick and psychology. And do they become upset, edgy,
angry? Do they squirm in their chairs? Do they become suspicious
and hostile because these commercials are "after their money"?
No! They accept these frontal attacks on their personal
pocketbooks as a normal and natural part of life. They actually
enjoy many of the ads (though some can be awfully demeaning and
insulting to our intelligence). They sing the snappy jingles as
they reach into their pockets and purses to spend their
hard-earned dollars on everything from soaps and cereals to
You know, when you think about it, you can hardly avoid
contact with people who are "after your money" - even in the
privacy of your own home. Whether from the TV tube, or the radio,
or the daily newspaper, the magazines you read, or the
advertisements that come direct to your door in the daily mail -
you just can't escape. You can't leave your home to get away from
it either. Billboards, gas prices, food stores, appliance stores,
furniture stores, car dealers, restaurants, quick-food chains -
on every side, from every angle, you are being bombarded with
every imaginable notice, sign, request, plea, or demand - for
Let's face it. The whole world is after your money.
And you do have money to spend! The question is where, and on
what, do you spend yours? And where does God fit in the picture?
I'm not sure why the subject of money in the context of religion
is the greatest turn-off topic. Maybe it's because people have
heard about, or personally experienced, religious hucksters. (As
though there are no hucksters on the TV tube, no deception in
advertising, business, government....).
Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus did warn us that there
would be many false prophets in this world, many wolves in
sheep's clothing, many religious deceivers misleading many. But
do many false Christs eliminate the existence of the one real
Messiah? Does the existence of a hundred false churches mean
there is no true religion on earth? Do the 450 priests of Baal
nullify the presence and work of God's true servants (see 1 Kings
18)? Absurd reasoning.
Maybe people resent the mention of money with religion
because they feel intimidated when God's name is used in the
money appeal. Strange how people resent the thought that God
might want to reach His finger into their pockets to further His
righteous purposes when they wouldn't blink an eye to spend all
their money for personal entertainment, personal needs, wants,
whims, desires, and luxuries. To use the name of God in a money
appeal is unforgiveable - to use sex, lust, power, and deception
is "smart advertising." Why do people think nothing of spending
their dollars in direct response to today's misleading,
deceitful, half-statement commercial propaganda - why do they
consider it normal to be easily led by the profit-motivated ploys
and appeals of advertisers who claim no association with God,
truth, honesty, morality, ethics, or service - yet pinch their
pennies when it comes to giving to God for His holy, righteous,
Maybe because churches are somehow supposed to be connected
with God and all, they shouldn't have any need of money - or at
least they shouldn't talk about it. (Ask God for it, some say -
as though God doesn't live in and work through human beings in
fulfilling His purposes here on this earth.)
I don't know why for sure, but it is obvious that people are
highly sensitive about the subject of money - in the field of
religion. People would rather you just not talk about it.
But Jesus Christ talked about money quite often - openly and
in public - and without apology. (Should it have been any other
way?) And His statements were quite bold. They were direct. And
plain! "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ... but
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor
steal" - "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"
- "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one,
and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise
the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" - "Take no thought for
your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ... O ye of
little faith" - "After all these things do the Gentiles seek" -
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and
all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:19-34).
And the Apostle Paul talked about money, and about giving to
the work of the ministry - even to those suspicious Christians
who questioned his sincerity and withheld their support from his
evangelistic and pastoral work. "This is my defense to those who
would examine me. Do we not have the right to our food and drink?
Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife ... ? Or is
it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working
for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who
plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a
flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say this on human
authority! Does not the law say the same? For it is written in
the law of Moses, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading
out the grain.' Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not
speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because
the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope
of a share in the crop. If we have sown spiritual good among you,
is a too much if we reap your material benefits? If others share
this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more?" (1 Cor.
9:3-12, RSV). In verse 14, Paul stated quite emphatically, "The
Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get
their living by the gospel."
Despite the many clear Scriptural teachings on the Christian
responsibility to generously support God's ministry on earth, the
subject of money remains the number ONE "Turn Off Topic" in
Religion to this very day.
In Matthew 6, Jesus taught an importent principle: our
giving should be "to God." Doing your giving "to God" (to where
you honestly feel God is working) is an important key in
Christian stewardship. Many think of their giving as "to men" or
"to organizations" - then later, if some of these humans turn out
to be less than what they thought them to be, or even insincere
and dishonest in some cases, these people often stop giving
entirely. But a true Christian should never stop giving to God.
His understanding of God or God's will may change. His
understanding of where God is more perfectly working may grow -
or change completely. After all, all of us have imperfect
knowledge. We can never "check out" everything perfectly, or be
absolutely certain of every man or organization.
But the important thing is that you are honest and sincere
with God. That you continue faithfully serving His will and
supporting His purposes - as best you see where they are being
done at the time. Your understanding may change. Humans and
organizations may change. But God is unchanging and true forever.
If a Christian truly were giving "to God" in his heart and mind,
he would not stop giving entirely because he discovered he had
been supporting a false work, church, or ministry. He would not
take out his disappointment, anger, or bitterness on God. God is
not to blame. Instead, the true Christian would diligently seek
where God is working, and redirect his giving there. For it was
Jesus who taught us to give "to God" and lay up "treasures in
heaven," not on earth.
It is the responsibility of every person on earth to
recognize that our Creator is a living God who is not dead or far
off someplace, but actively carrying out His Divine Purposes
through His servants on earth. It is the duty of every Christian
to serve God with his substance, by giving to those who are
actively engaged in fulfilling God's spiritual purposes in these
Where on earth is God working? Through whom is He
accomplishing His will? .... But these are questions each one of
us must answer and decide.
Is it possible for us to put aside the emotional
sensitivities and personal biases on this subject and approach it
as we would any other petition for money - whether on a TV
commercial or in a store? Can we side-step the
emotionally-charged negativism, step back into the cool, calm,
clear logic of reason, and consider the subject of money for
religion in unemotional, objective terms? I hope so. Because if
you give to God, what you give, how you give, and in what
attitude, are all very important.
Remember, it is to God that your devotion, service, time,
talent, and substance must be directed. We do not give of
ourselves to please men - but to serve them and to please God.
The following questions are ones that every person must
eventually face and answer - first, hopefully, to himself; later,
assuredly, to his Maker. You need not answer any of these
questions for me. For it is God, after all, who is your Judge
(Rom.14:10-12; James 4:11-12). I am not your judge - nor is your
brother. So don't worry about what others may think. But it is
important for each one of us to face these questions personally,
honestly, and conscientiously - so we all can boldly stand before
the judgment seat of Christ and give account for our every answer
The following sequence of questions is given here to help
you clearly and logically approach this delicate subject in the
hope that you will strengthen your commitment and your personal
relationship with God. I hope you will think each one of these
questions through carefully, with meditation, prayer, and study -
so that you will not only have a clear answer to each question,
but also specific, objective reasons for every answer.
1. SOMETHING OR NOTHING?
The first question to be considered by anyone is whether or not
he intends to give anything to God at all? Will he give something
or nothing? And why?
2. CONSISTENT OR INCONSISTENT?
If he recognizes the responsibility of giving financially, the
next questions he faces are: how much and how often? Will he give
just once in his lifetime, once a year, sporadically, whenever he
feels like it, whenever he's "forced" into it, whenever he's
asked, whenever he's trying to "impress God" (or men), whenever
he needs God? Or, will he give consistently and regularly? Are
you dependable? Can God count on you? How does God give to you to
provide your physical and spiritual needs?
3. OFF THE TOP OR THE BOTTOM?
The best way to give consistently, according to how God has
blessed us, is to return to God a portion of everything He gives
The next, natural question is: how much? But before someone can
even answer that, he must decide whether he is going to put God
first by giving the first to Him, or whether he will give God
what is convenient or left over after covering other obligations
and interests. Will he give God the first or the last - will he
give "off the top" or "off the bottom" according to what is left
over, if anything is left over.
Proverbs 3:9 tells us, "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and
with the fist-fruits of all thine increase." God deserves the
first and the best we have to offer. Please read Haggai 1.4-9 and
Malachi 1:6-8, 12-14 to see what God thinks when we offer Him the
"leftovers." Putting God first is the message of Matthew 6:19-33
and of the first, Great Commandment of Matthew 22:37-38.
4. A VARYING AMOUNT OR A FIXED AMOUNT?
Next logical step: will he give to God a different amount each
week or month, according to his fluctuating needs, bills, and
desires? Or, will he commit a portion of his income to serving
God first, setting a specific figure that belongs to God and His
purposes before the physical and personal expenses of life and
pleasure? (If a special need arises in God's work, one can always
give beyond what he determined to give to God regularly.
Conversely, if an unusual need arises in his personal life, he
can temporarily give less than the amount he fixed. But one's
regular, normal giving should be consistent).
5. WHAT PERCENTAGE?
If a Christian determines to (1) give to God, (2) consistently,
(3) putting Him first in his life, and (4) committing a regular,
dependable amount according to his personal income, then (6) what
amount should he set in his budget for God? The Bible teaches
many principles on giving that should guide us in this decision
But whatever the amount is - and whatever the criteria,
circumstances, Scriptural teachings and examples used to make
that decision - it is important to recognize that that amount is,
in fact, a certain percentage of your income. You are giving
either 2 per cent, 6 per cent, 10 per cent, 12 per cent -
whatever the ratio is between what you receive of God and what
you return to God. God does notice how and how much you give
(Mark 12:41-44; Acts 10:4). And we all will give account to God
for our actions, explaining to Him the Scriptural principles and
personal factors on which we based our decisions.
We cannot fool God. For He knows that "where your treasure
is, there will your heart be also" (Matt.6:21) and that
"whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that
soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he
that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life
everlasting" (Gal 6:7-8). "Be not deceived; God is not mocked."
If you have read this article, Congratulations! After all,
this is the "Greatest Turn Off Topic in Religion."
But this is more than something to just read or think about.
Why not make some decisions? Take some action now. God will
reward you. And you'll never again squirm in your chair when a
minister talks about money.
If you have in any way seriously considered some of the
principles and points discussed in this article, you owe it to
yourself (and your God) to read more about what the Bible says on
Entered on this Website April 2008
This article was taken from "IMPACT For Today's World" magazine
way back in the 1980s. It's been in my file cabinet ever since
In your decision to give of your money to serve God in serving
people of this world, I do also want you to note from the
Gospels, the account of the rich young man who came to Jesus
asking what he needed to do to have eternal life (Mat.19:16-22).
The bottom line was that this rich man needed to sell his riches
and GIVE IT TO THE POOR!!
First. This was a unique situation here. Jesus knew the heart of
this man. He knew that for HIM this was the correct way to go,
for his wealth had become his "god." This example does NOT mean
every person has to sell and give away all material things they
have and serve Jesus as a missionary. Of course it does not mean
that, as the rest of the Bible would clearly teach. Few are
called to be a wandering missionary of the Gospel.
Second. You will note the rich man was to give his wealth to the
POOR ... not the "church" in this case. Again, this does not mean
the "Church of God" is to recieve NOTHING, for the rest of the
Bible proves it is right and good for people to give to the work
of God. But this example does teach it is RIGHT and it is GOOD to
give to the POOR!!
So I challenge you, that in your giving you REMEMBER the POOR of
this world. There are MANY good and worthwhile "charities" out
there who serve the needs of the NEEDY and the POOR. Yes, you
need to be wise in your charity giving, to the best of your
ability you need to make sure the charity is doing good, using
the money it gets to really serve people, and not be using an
over-amount of its money on administration etc.
But I can tell you there are MANY charity works that ARE doing a
fine job of serving the poor and needy, you just have to be
willing to find them, watch for them as they, yes, as they also
advertize at times on the TV, Radio, and in Magazines, just like
Toothpaste companies do, or your local Real-estate company does.
DO NOT FORGET THE POOR! It is a teaching from one end of the
Bible to the other. Your SAVIOR taught it!!