We like rich people. We think they are special. We like to hang around them because they might give us things we covet. We study their lives to identify secrets to success so we can become like them. Sometimes we think they are rich because they are righteous, and that God shows His approval of their lives through a blessing of wealth. Sometimes we think they are rich because they are shrewd, intelligent, aggressive, or other desirable natural-man traits. Often we think it’s a combination of both.
A prevalent belief among members of the Church is that one of the primary prerequisites to becoming a mission president is financial success and/or independence. I hear people explain that success in the business world is great training to run a mission effectively. And, as general authorities are often recruited from the ranks of ex-mission presidents, the ecclesiastical career path of choice begins with proper planning, education, and execution for a lucrative career so that you can someday become very useful to the Lord.
There are a few cantankerous members of the Church, though, who believe that the views expressed above are fully apostate. Their names are Paul and James.
Paul describes such doctrines as “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Timothy 6:5)
James taught: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile [dirty] raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay [splendid] clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”
Most are familiar with James’ assertion that “faith without works is dead.” We may not realize that when he taught that doctrine, the example he gives of such works is caring for the poor and needy:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2)
Which do you choose?