What Does the Bible Say About...
Becoming Involved With Pyramid Schemes
by Mark Buckley
Beware of illegal and unethical Pyramid Schemes. There are several variations of
pyramid schemes going on in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. right now. One entails people taking
$2,000 to a meeting. The $2,000 is gifted to someone else and then the person
takes eight other friends who gift others with $2,000. After their friends
bring $2,000, the original person receives $16,000. This may seem like a great way to make
money quickly. In reality, it brings pain, hurt, and confusion to many who get caught up
in it. Pyramid programs by their very nature are designed to produce a great return for
those who get involved early on, and anguish for those who are last to participate.
During the early part of 1997, Albanians were experiencing their first fruits of
democracy. The people had not been exposed to many business practices, either legitimate
or fraudulent, because of the Communist regime. When some devious individuals introduced a
pyramid program to Albania, hundreds of thousands of people participated. When the nation
was saturated with this program, the last people in realized that they had nobody to
collect money from and the pyramid collapsed. At that point, thousands of the people went
on a rampage. Anarchy broke out and a civil war began. To this day, the nation has not
regained its stability. The people were na´ve and somehow felt that they could get rich
without really working, simply by investing in a devious pyramid scheme.
People should know better, but unfortunately there are many gullible people in the world.
Most pyramid schemes are run by people who do not care about the other participants. They
know that a great majority of them will lose money, but since their motivation is greed,
that doesn't stop them.
There are ethical and scriptural reasons why Christians should not participate
in pyramid schemes:
1. Many are illegal. The operators of the schemes will often tell people that they are
legal. They will also fight charges in court to delay the legal process from shutting them
down, because the longer they keep going, the more money they make.
2. The Bible says Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sows,
that he shall also reap. (Galatians 6:7). If you sow your time, energy or
money into a program that ultimately causes financial loss, suffering and confusion to
others, even if you made money temporarily, you will ultimately reap suffering, confusion
and financial loss as a result.
3. Jesus said, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
(Matthew 7:12). We would not want anyone to get us involved in any endeavor,
which would cause us financial loss. Therefore, as believers, we should not entice other
people into a pyramid program which may cause them to experience financial loss. Is it
really worth destroying relationships with people you know and love for money?
4. Proverbs 22:1 says, A good name is better than great
riches. If you participate in a unethical pyramid program, you are damaging
your good name. People will begin to mistrust your motives. They will see you as a person
who's willing to take advantage of them in order to bring profit to yourself.
5. The love of money motivates people to care more about self-interests than their
neighbors or brothers. All pyramid programs will end up burning more people than they
help. The basic mathematics of these programs necessitates that there will be many times
more people losing than gaining money. That great majority of people will feel hurt, used,
and abused. They will be disappointed and lose trust in anyone who got them involved in
these programs. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. (1
Timothy 6:10). As Christians, we should be promoting righteousness, peace, and
joy. Our relationships should be built on love and trust.
6. The Bible says, You must not associate with anyone who calls himself a
brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a
swindler. With such a man do not even eat. (1 Corinthians 5:11). Swindlers
take advantage of other people's weaknesses to make money for themselves. Greedy people
are motivated by a desire for personal gain at others' expense. Covetousness is a form of
idolatry (Colossians 3:5). We should flee such unrighteousness.
7. Those who do not work should not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
The desire to make money without working for it is an unrighteous desire. God uses work to
build and shape our character. He delights in providing for those who put His Kingdom and
His Righteousness first. Some people talk about using wealth that they are going to gain
from pyramid schemes or gambling to promote God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom is not promoted
by unrighteousness. It is promoted through the loving sacrifice of those who are obedient
to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why is it that some Christians lack significant spiritual responsibility? One reason can
be found in Luke 16:11 where Jesus said, If you are not
trustworthy in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will trust you with the true
riches? The way we handle our money is something God uses to determine
whether He will trust us with the true riches of His Kingdom, which includes caring for
His people and the release of spiritual gifts in our lives.
I urge you to flee from any unrighteous business dealings, unethical or illegal pyramid
programs, gambling, or activities that are promoted by greed. God's work is promoted most
fruitfully by people who learn to love and give wisely, from an obedient, cheerful heart.
If you keep God's Word, you will grow in the knowledge of Him and prosper in your soul. If
you seek His Kingdom first and His Righteousness, He promises that you will always have
enough of everything you need to enjoy this life. We only have one life to live; let's
live it God's way!
The basic mathematics of these programs necessitates that there will be many times more
people losing than gaining money. He who separates himself seeks his own desire; he
quarrels against all sound wisdom. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I
will give you rest.
Summation of the ethical and Scriptural reasons to avoid unethical or illegal
1. They are illegal or at best, unethical
2. You reap what you sow.
3. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
4. A good name is better than riches.
5. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.
6. You must not associate with...[the] greedy, or a swindler.
7. Those who do not work should not eat.
This article was taken from the Living Times magazine
July, 1997 issue, published by Living Streams Church. Used With Permission.
Mark Buckley pastors Living Streams Church located in Phoenix,
Arizona. He is a gifted and anointed author and has had his works published in Ministry
Today and Charisma magazines among others.
E-mail Mark at: MarkBuckley@juno.com
Or write to: Living Streams - P.O. Box 44800 - Phoenix, AZ 85064
You can be blessed by reading more of Mark Buckley's articles at
the Living Streams Website: http://www.livingstreams.org/