Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Billy Graham's net worth was an estimated $25 million at the time of his death. © Getty Images

But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house.
1 Kings 7:1

It took Solomon—well, his thirty thousand conscripts—seven years to complete the building of the temple, hauling wood from Lebanon and stone from the surrounding mountains.1 While engaged on this hallowed project Solomon took advantage of the labour and materials to complete his own house, perhaps as grand if not grander than the temple itself. By this act, whether we like it or not, we can compare Solomon to modern-day prosperity evangelists,2 who by the pretence of serving God actually serve themselves.

"Pretence" is perhaps unfair though. In all cases, including Solomon's there is likely to be a strong belief that God is the primary focus and that the personal benefits are a spill-over, a necessary perk that allows the real, the holy work to get done. We humans are so very good at twisting motives to justify actions, and this seems to be especially true, and easy to get away with where religion is involved, the trance state induced by religious fervour overriding our reality checking abilities.

It's not only televangelists though who operate in this way. We all have a tendency to justify our selfish actions by claiming good motives. It is not for nothing the phrase was coined, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". It takes a great deal of reflection and introspection to recognise our motives for what they often are: selfish and self-serving. It then takes great effort to act differently.

David, for all his desire was unable to build the temple. Solomon, with great wealth and time on his hands succeeded where David failed. But at what cost? Success, victory, winning, these often have the hidden downside of self-love and vainglory, which, as with Solomon, ultimately destroys our relationship with God.

1 1 Kings 5-6
2 Prosperity Theology