For those who don’t know, Multi Level Marketing (MLM) is a where you start a business selling a product but you also get people under you to sell the product and you make money on their sales as well. For the record this is indeed a legitimate business and I do not have any issues with making a business this way. That said, MLM owners some of you are deeply hurting your sisters and brothers in the Lord. Imagine this scenario:
Jill: “Hi Jane I was thinking we have been going to church together 2 years and never really gotten to know each other. We should do coffee sometime.”
Jane (thinking this is great I’ve had trouble fitting in and making friends here): “Oh that would be great!”
Jill: “While we are hanging out I want to show you about XYZ product and a way you can make some extra money”
Jane: “Oh well I don’t think I would be interested in that but I’d still love to hang out”
Jill: “Okay well let me check my schedule and get back to you”
Jill never gets back to Jane.
Now brothers and sisters can you imagine the hurt caused there. One woman is longing for friendship (which happens way to often in churches) and she feels as though her value to the other woman is based on whether or not she can make monetary gain from her. I understand that the person doing the selling most likely did not have this intent but intentions aside that is the result.
Consider James 2:1-4, 8-9 (note that I am not trying to use this verse to condemn multi-level marketing businesses nor am I using it to condemn making money. The key part in this not letting money be a determining factor in showing love within the church.)
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of
personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Of course this passage is dealing more with how we in the church treat the poor person versus how we treat the rich person, however the key point is in verse 9 where God makes it clear that we are not to show partiality especially based on money.
The question is whether we are placing our treasure in business ventures at the expense of eternal things (and if a business venture creates a situation where we neglect being a friend to a brother or sister in the church because they are not interested in the business venture, sadly that is placing the temporal over the eternal). Matthew 4:19-20 and 6:19-21 together make it clear that we must value the building up of the body over any material thing.
Matt 4:19-20 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matt 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What we need to be asking in our relationships with our church body is whether or not we are esteeming our brothers and sisters more highly than ourselves. Every word we speak and every action we take ought to be for the building up of the body. So when we interact with a fellow child of God we need to always be asking ourselves how we can build them up and if we are placing their needs above our own.
And brethren, the need of fellowship and companionship is strong and far too often unmet in our churches. Yes the preaching of sound doctrine is important and yes it is important that we are proclaiming the Gospel but true fellowship of the body is also a great need. People are hurting and need companionship and prayer. I see so many people in churches that show up on Sunday and are disconnected the rest of the week. We ought to be family. We ought to be people who sacrifice our free time for each other. We ought to be people who cry with each other and laugh with each other and eat meals with each other and that should not be in any way contingent on our business ventures.
So by all means invest in a business and make money for the glory of God but do not forget that unless we have love, all other things are meaningless. Let others know us by our love for each other.