You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
Thoughts for Today:Although the Jews hated the idols worshipped by pagans, it didn't stop them from selling or using them in some other way in their own businesses -- I believe that's what Paul is speaking about. In other words, making money in un-Godly ways.
It is always interesting to me how some find a way to separate their business, professional or personal activities from church life. However, a number of the more tragic cases of fraud have been intentionally perpetrated by one church member upon another ("robbing temples"). One extreme example came to a conclusion in 2007 when Donald Deardoff, the former treasurer of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona was ordered to serve four years in prison and pay $159 million to victims of an investment scam (former foundation president William Crotts and general counsel Thomas Grabinski were sentenced in September 2006 to eight and six years in prison, respectively, on fraud and racketeering charges). According to the Associated Baptist Press: "The foundation collapsed in 1999 after state regulators ordered it to stop selling securities. Controlled by the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, it had generated money by soliciting funds from clients -- mainly elderly Baptists -- ostensibly to build churches and retirement homes. Instead, courts found, foundation leaders used the funds for a classic pyramid scheme. The foundation shuffled bad debt and overvalued property between phony companies, paying high profits to backers from the money paid in by subsequent investors. About 11,000 investors lost more than $550 million in the foundation's collapse."
In a Feb. 6 editorial, the Tucson Citizen called the case a "sordid story" and predicted that investors wouldn't get back nearly the amount of money they had entrusted to the foundation. "It is a sad story of greed perpetrated in the name of a church," the editors wrote. I think that quote pretty well sums up what Paul is addressing in our passage today as well as the core issue in every investment scam: Greed.
Questions to Ponder:I have always made it a practice to not mix business with church. Not that my business is conducted in anything other than high Biblical and moral standards, but rather so no one would confuse my intent or position at church with business objectives. I am a little concerned whenever I see someone using the church membership directory as a network for business -- and equally concerned when a member thinks doing business only with Christians is a guarantee of "fair dealing". In several instances, including the one cited in today's devotion -- just the opposite is the case. So be careful -- especially where money is concerned. Greed is a potential snare for all of us.