There is a false teaching today that claims that “health, wealth, and prosperity” are a sign of God’s blessing upon a person. Those who twist the Scripture to promote this teaching reveal what their true motive is- “monetary gain.” Motivations, however, are not always displayed out in the open. Although our motivations may be hidden to others, they are always seen clearly by God.
In Numbers 22, we are introduced to a mysterious character named Balaam. In this chapter, the children of Israel are nearing the end of their 40 years of wandering and had come to a land called Moab. The king of Moab, Balak, had heard of the Israelites and was afraid. He knew he couldn’t defeat them by physical force, so he offered Balaam money to curse the people. At first, Balaam appeared to be a true and obedient prophet of God who obeyed His command and refused to see Balak. Balaam, however, was commanded to go upon the second request to God. On the surface, Balaam obeyed the voice of the Lord. In chapters 23 and 24, Balaam’s declarations are given. Every time he opened his mouth, he blessed the people of God, rather than cursing them. Balaam’s motivation seemed sincere, but other places in Scripture reveal otherwise. God would not permit Balaam to curse the people openly. Therefore, Balaam cursed them secretly. Revelation 2:14 says, “…Balaam…taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.” Balaam undermined the people of Israel by introducing immorality and idolatry among the people. 2 Peter 2:5 reveals his motivation- “Balaam…loved the wages of unrighteousness.” Balaam’s motivation was greed. Although God would not allow him to go beyond His word, Balaam lusted after the money offered to him by Balak. His real god was money.
Many false teachers are just like Balaam. They may appear to obey God and even speak some truth, but they are motivated by something other than obeying and bringing glory to God. Someone once said that “even a broken clock is correct twice a day.” False teachers are dangerous because they usually speak some truth while hiding their true motivations. Not only does the Bible warn us of false teachers who “through covetousness…with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Pet. 2:3), but it also warns Christians to not become enslaved by greed. The Bible warns us that those who “will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9). We are called to put off greediness which will only result in destruction and sorrow and to put on contentment. God is not only concerned with our actions and words. He who “search[es] the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10) looks beyond the external actions and see the true motivations behind all that a person does. It is important to check our motivations, because our motivations matter to God.