I hadn’t heard of Paula White until a few months ago, but what I’ve heard saddens me.* She has a “ministry” which teaches people that God’s healing and favor in your life are dependent on whether you can develop an Attitude Of Gratitude, and the way to prove it is by sending some cash Ms. White’s way.
As Ms. White teaches:
In Luke 17, ten men live outside of the city due to their leprosy. Jesus healed them all and told them to go show themselves to the priest. One man saw that he was healed and turn [sic] around to give God thanks. He cried out with a loud voice because the process of the disease was stopped. His attitude of gratitude caused him to not only be healed but to be restored.
Is that what caused his healing and restoration, that he had an attitude of gratitude? No, and anyone reading Luke 17 can see that for themselves. However, Ms. White did not quote the passage nor link to it, so I’ll do it here for her:
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19.)
Contrary to the lesson Ms. White wants her readers to take from that passage, faith is what made him well. His gratitude came later. And faith comes by God’s grace, not works like creating an attitude of gratitude. (Ephesians 2:8-9.) If healing and restoration came by creating this attitude of gratitude within yourself, then it would be by works and not by grace. As for the other nine people Jesus healed, there is no mention that their healing was short-lived due to their failure to return to Jesus and say thanks.
Changing the gospel to open the wallets
Why does she change the story? Because focusing on God’s free gift of faith and grace doesn’t lead people to think they need to do something to gain God’s favor, something like send Ms. White money. That’s where she goes next when she segues into this pitch:
I feel impressed of the Lord to ask you to do something that I believe will create a memory in the mind of God and this will change your future. I want you to give a seed offering that I call a �Gratitude�** seed. This is an extremely powerful seed for you… especially at this time in your life. This seed will do two things for you.
1. This seed will get God�s attention. Remember, God sits high and looks low. He is looking for faith on the earth. This seed will require strong faith.
2. This seed will be seen as a �Gratitude� offering. Gratitude always produces favor and favor will cause you to receive in a moment, more than some do in a lifetime!
Let’s look at her claims:
- “I feel impressed of the Lord …” – Who are you to question Ms. White if God is the one who impressed this on her?
- “… to ask you to do something that I believe will create a memory in the mind of God …” – Apparently God has selective memory.
- “… and this will change your future.” – Your future is in your hands, not God’s, because it’s up to you to do what she’s had impressed upon her.
- “I want you to give a seed offering that I call a �Gratitude� seed. This is an extremely powerful seed for you… especially at this time in your life.” – What time in your life is it? Time to get out your checkbook.
- “This seed will do two things for you.” – It’s like a buy one/get one free offer.
- “1. This seed will get God’s attention.” – Because otherwise God might not notice you.
- “2. This seed will be seen as a �Gratitude� offering. Gratitude always produces favor and favor will cause you to receive in a moment, more than some do in a lifetime!” – Those poor folks who haven’t sent money in order to show their gratitude will never get the favor you’re going to get for sending your gratitude moolah to Paula White. It’s guaranteed because “Gratitude always produces favor … !”
What will this Gratitude™ set you back? She doesn’t specify, so to give her the benefit of the doubt let’s say any amount will qualify. But if you go to her website’s donation page the default amount is $115, with a vague reference to Psalm 115 as apparent support for that amount.
Suffice to say that the irony is not lost on me that one of its verses reads, “But their idols are silver and gold … .” (Psalm 115:4.)
You are already under God’s Favor
The Bible says plenty about God’s favor, including Jesus’ first synagogue sermon where he announces the Year of the Lord’s Favor in fulfillment of prophecy. (Luke 4.) Jesus’ gospel is about what God does for his people and that includes being under God’s favor, as Paul later explained:
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2.)
There is never a word spoken about how to receive God’s favor other than as a product of God’s grace. There is no prerequisite attitude of gratitude nor payment of money to a ministry, nothing but grace. God hears you and God helps you by giving you his grace, not by you giving him money.
Grace. That’s how God remembers you, how he pays attention to you, how he brings you his favor and healing salvation.
*Ms. White has featured prominently in political news recently. This post is not about politics so please refrain from referring to her political connections in any comments. I know you can do it!
**Don’t ask me what she means by using those � symbols. They’re on her page and I reproduced them here.