Chapter 18 Muzzle The Ox (Ox Tales) 2018-06-22T00:03:35+00:00

Chapter 18

Muzzle the Ox (Ox Tales)

We are still dealing with 1Corinthians 9:7-14, which we examined in the previous chapter, and which pro-tithers consider to be a New Covenant bulwark scripture for their doctrine.

In this aspect of that scripture, Paul makes it a point to discuss the don’t muzzle the ox verse (Deut 25:4), which pro-tithers will adamantly insist is a reference to tithing.

In reality, this scripture merely indicates that Paul is talking about a concept of being compensated in some basic, minimal way for services rendered – for effort and labor. Paul did not mention any Old Covenant tithe law at all. Furthermore he is not saying “since I preached something to you, that makes me the antitype of the Levites and you owe me ten percent of your income” as some tithe promoters would assert.

It is So, So Obvious.

Just read it – In 1Corinthians 9:8-9 Paul calls to attention God’s Law regarding the situation. Come on, you pro-nomian Law-teaching preachers – let’s think about this real hard: If Paul was trying to enforce a tithe, which of God’s Laws do you think he would refer to?

Does Paul refer to the Law against adultery? No, because he’s not talking to the Corinthians about adultery.

Does Paul refer to the Law of land rest? No, because he’s not talking to the Corinthians about land rest.

Does Paul refer to the Law of the tithe? No, because he’s not talking to the Corinthians about the tithe.

Well then, does Paul refer to the Law of muzzling the ox? Yes! Yes, a thousand times yes. Because that is what Paul is talking to the Corinthians about – basic, minimal sustenance as basic support for his efforts. How much plainer can it be? Deuteronomy 25:4 (the Law of not muzzling the ox) is not even near any scriptures about the tithe, or the temple, or Levites; it is an entirely different Law. This fact is so obvious that it should not have to be pointed out, but the need arises because the preachers have lied about this verse for so long that many people can not see it for what it plainly says.

Paul does not mention the Law of the tithe (Leviticus 27, Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 12 & 14). Paul does not call attention to examples of tithing from the Old Covenant scriptures (2Chronicles 31; Nehemiah 10, 12 or 14). Paul does not even quote Malachi, as a reasonable person would expect if the tithe was the topic of discussion.

Paul does not mention tithe even though as we can see, he had plenty of Law and scriptural examples to refer to.

Instead of tithe law, Paul brings up a “muzzle the ox” scripture, Deut 25:4 “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Which relates to an issue of fairness and justice – fair pay for honest work. Just as he did to Timothy in 1 Tim 5:18, “ For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.”

Do you see how Paul tied those two concepts together?

This relates to Deut 24:14-15 “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:

At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.”

and Lev 19:13 “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.”

This law is not specific to preachers. It is for the general protection of any worker, with a connotation to lower class common laborers, servants, or even to slaves. Paul is not looking to get rich or even to make a profit. He just wanted enough basic physical support to keep going, just as Jesus Christ instructed.

In this case the appointed compensation was a meal and a place to sleep to be precise – basic necessities. Who pays cash to their oxen? Who provides investment accounts, high-end SUV’s, or paid vacations for their cattle? This situation and the scripture that Paul brings into play have nothing whatsoever to do with tithing or a lavish lifestyle. Not a thing.

They do, however fit perfectly with the instructions of Jesus to the 12 Apostles (Matt Chapter 10:5-10, Mark 6:7-9, Luke 9:1-3), and to the 70 disciples.

Luke 10:3-7 “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse[money], nor scrip [extra food], nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”

“perhaps this “ox” theory has something to do with ‘bull’.”

1Corinthians 9:4-9 “Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?”

Perhaps you have noticed that Paul is speaking in terms of fundamental and immediate need; nothing long term or beyond basic human necessities.

Somehow, tithe promoters relate the “ox eating grain” reference to a Levite eating tithed food, who then shape-shifts into a modern preacher stuffing cash into his pocket; perhaps this “ox” theory has something to do with “bull”.

They hang their hat on this chapter and behold – “proof” of a New Covenant tithe! Then, they say that since we now “know” that Paul is talking about a tithe law here; this provides the basis for an additional fiction: the so-called proof  that the following verses about the temple workers refers to a modern tithe as well.

Now, I realize that I may be diagnosed with the newly invented Oppositional Defiance Disorder, but I am going to pose a couple of the most important questions for you, that you can ever ask yourself:

“Is my preacher lying to me?” and
“Am I being dumbed-down by a preacher who is using false logic and nonsense to make his point, then portraying it to me as being wisdom?”

Paul told Timothy basically “Know what you know, and who you learned it from” in 2 Tim 3:14. This was meant in a positive way for Timothy, because he had reliable teachers. It applies just as well to us today in a negative way about charlatan “authorities” of all types.

“There is nothing more destructive than belief in the certainty of a so-called truth that is not true.”

With the above example about the ox fresh in your mind, think about it – How much do you know, and who do you know it from? Do you have confidence that what you “know”, is really as true as you once thought it was, considering the source of your information? In my opinion most congregations have been trained to accept deception disguised as knowledge.

There is nothing more destructive than the certainty of a belief in so-called truth that is not true.

If we can see that the various foundations that the tithe-takers start with are untrue, then the entire doctrine collapses from the vacuum created by the lack of any real, credible pro-tithe evidence whatsoever.

Back to Paul and 1Corinthians 9

As for the “right” that Paul refers to – This right is not a right to engage in the fraud of taking a tithe, but a right to receive an agreed-upon, or commonly expected compensation for his efforts. A right to not be cheated, or starving, or cold.

The point is, to spend more time on his mission, and less time on menial labor required just to get a meal. It is the same concept as Acts 6:2 – much to get done, and only so many hours in a day to do them, so they arranged make the most of the time available.

The idea that Paul is trying to convey goes something like this: If someone walks up to you and starts preaching, you owe them nothing, because you did not ask for anything. Once you say “Tell me more” or “Stay a few days or weeks and teach me more”, it then implies a contract of an exchange of value.

This would apply to minstrels, storytellers, philosophers, teachers – anyone who has caught your attention. You find that their information or entertainment has value, that is why you requested more. Therefore by right of the muzzle the ox concept, you should provide something of value in exchange, if  

you are able, even if it is just a meal or two, or three, which is the scriptural daily wage of a preacher, as well as for oxen. Matthew 10:10, and Luke 10:7 in which Jesus says“and in the self same house abide ye, eating and drinking such things as they have; for worthy is the laborer of his hire“.

Jesus was clearly equating room and board with the word “hire”, and that is all that Paul was looking for.

Paul apparently had a willing audience; therefore he had a right to receive some sort of hire, but was being denied even this basic support from these apparent cheapskates. In fact, in Philippians 2:25-30 Paul mentions an associate Epaphroditus, who almost died due to lack of supplies, because the Philippians were unaware of their situation. This indicates just how close to the edge they were living.

In any case, there is no temple, no sacrifice, and no tithe at all involved in this arrangement for God’s true New Covenant workers.

In addition to that, “worthy is the laborer of his hire” is a concept with two parallel trains of thought. We predominantly interpret this phrase as “make sure you pay the laborer”, but the other counterbalancing idea is that “the laborer must be worthy of his pay”. Some preachers are big on the getting paid part, but not so keen on the doing the labor part. Especially when it comes to doing the labor honestly and well, as Paul did. That is apparently why they want security of this unconditional welfare entitlement called a “tithe”.

This concept of “wages” as described above is verified by the following:

1Corinthians 9:11 “If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap materialthings from you?” and 9:14 “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to live of the gospel.”

To “live of the gospel” does not mean profit, financially prosper, or getting stinking rich from preaching the gospel, as many of today’s preachers want to insist.

Philippeans 4:14-19 “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

By deciphering the KJV language, we see that the Philippeans were considerate to Paul, even while others were not. He appreciates it not so much because of his own benefit, but because he knows that they understood the concept of freewill giving, having proven themselves to be selfless in general. Because of their spirit of empathy and generosity toward others, they themselves will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this spirit, and of God’s blessing. As mentioned before: there is no promise of riches in return for their kindness; only that God will supply their needs.

Galatians 6:6. “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.”

This is a verse which is sometimes used to support a pay-the-preacher paradigm, but its use for such purpose is unjustified. When the term “share all good things” is examined in the original Greek, we see that it is not speaking of material goods or money, but to intellectually share thoughts, comments and questions about what is being taught. In other words teaching was not a one way flow of verbalization such as most of today’s preaching is, but an interactive discussion of ideas, questions, and experiences.

So, once again, what is missing from the above mentioned scriptures, if you are a tithe believer?

That is right, there is no mention of tithe. Playing the “tithe is the Law” card would have saved Paul a lot of time, and pleading, and explanation; if that was what he was talking about. Obviously it was not.

However, even though money is not mentioned in any of the above-mentioned scriptures, those who seek tithe money may point to them and say “See here? It says they gave Paul money. Money can be defined as ‘material’, and also as ‘good’!”; “We have here the ‘Pauline Money-for-Nothing Model’ and the ‘Pay the Preacher Precedent’!”

They might say that giving the preacher a hundred or five hundred dollars could feed him for a week or a month, then we would not have to be so concerned about his day-to-day needs. This seems to be a practical approach (though it has absolutely nothing to do with the tithe) except for the existence of those numerous scriptures that express an abhorrence to monetary gain made in God’s name. Scriptures that allow for basic necessities only; food, clothing, a place to stay. This is the blueprint created by many, many scriptures that describe a modest-to-austere lifestyle for a man of God.

There are at least two reasons for this prohibition against cash that are readily apparent. First is the obvious question that once they start accepting money, where does it end? “If $100 for a week is good, then $500 is even better, and $50,000 will set them up for the year, or will that last only six months, or even three?” This can quickly and easily spiral to an out-of-control dependence on the money rather than on God’s providence. This has become so axiomatic we can count on that happening almost like we can count on the law of gravity.

Revelation 3:16-17 says “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Regardless of this warning, for some reason the tithe-seeking (and other) preachers want to be “rich, and increased in goods and have need of nothing.”

Secondly, God’s instructions require daily dependence on His providence, which in general would be manifesting itself through the Body of Christ. This sets the scene for daily personal contact and interaction between the preacher and the people, whereas wealth tends to create a divide between the “successful” wealthy preacher and the commoners. The question of sincerity eventually arises as to whether he is showing up on Sunday to serve God, or to make more money.

The non-profit but very profitable religion business model engulfing us today has all but wiped out the idea of what a true man of God preacher should be.

Paul did not have a right to demand any type of payment in the form of money as preachers today claim to have. You will notice that 1Peter 5:2 speaks of money obtained as a result of preaching or teaching God’s Word as “base gain” or “filthy lucre”, even though it may have been a reasonable amount and even though the listeners may have appreciated hearing the message and willingly paid the preacher. That’s all irrelevant because money for preaching was and is forbidden. Today filthy lucre is what we call dirty money – money obtained by dishonest or immoral means.

John 6:27 “Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.”

I mean how plain can it be? Again, food is the payment. It was food in the Old Covenant for the Levites, food and basic necessities for the prophets, food and basic necessities for the Apostles and disciples, and that idea carries right through the New Covenant up to today; in theory, anyway.

Parenthetically, this scripture alludes to the idea that the non-materialism of basic sustenance is only a stepping stone to the receiving of spiritual food which leads to eternal life. This is consistent with what Jesus said about not living on physical bread alone but on the Word of God. (Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4)

So do not think that preachers receiving only basic sustenance is a radical concept; in reality that is only an intermediate phase of God’s program for those who can hack it.

The word “Godliness” in scripture is at its base synonymous with non-materialism and selflessness. Paul mentions this subject numerous times: Romans 2, 1Timothy, particularly chapter 6, 2Timothy, and Titus, to name a few. Also 1Peter 1:4-8.

Generally speaking, Godliness is a precursor to true righteousness, and so-called righteousness without Godliness almost always amounts to “self-righteousness”; or worse yet false righteousness. These are just another way of describing hypocritical piety or arrogant judgmentalism that comes from knowing and applying the Law mentally, without having the spiritual temperance and patience that comes from a mature, heartfelt sense of humility and empathy.

Romans 8:5 says “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”

If you are looking for a hot stock tip, or which team to bet on, by all means seek your materialistic, money-seeking preacher’s advice. But if you want spiritual advice or insight, you need to find someone who walks the spiritual walk of austerity and non-materialism described in scripture. Unfortunately today, that is like finding a talking unicorn.

For all practical purposes in today’s world, we need to be eighty-sixing the false teachers, getting back to the basic teachings of Christ and the Apostles, and ditching every single doctrine that can not withstand informed critical scrutiny. This means starting at square one on your trek through scripture itself, reading it for what it plainly says, and see what it tells you.

As the Amplified Bible makes clear in 2Corinthians 2:17 Paul states:”For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive”

So according to this scripture, sincerity and pure motives are depicted as the opposite of being paid to preach.

2Corinthians 12:17-18 “Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?” Paul is saying “Did we ever once accept money from you?” With the obvious answer being “No, we did not.”

2Corinthians 10:2 “wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.” Meaning that when Paul got there, he was going to confront those people that claimed that Paul had human motives (money, prestige, personal power over others, etc) and set them straight.

2Corinthians 11:7 “…because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?”

So was Paul two-faced? Did he preach “without charge” and then go around grumbling that he had not been paid in 1Corinthians 9 and elsewhere? No, of course not. He preached without expecting a monetary fee for doing so, but he did expect to be sustained in food, clothing, and a place to lay his head – just as Jesus instructed. This standard holds true up to this very day, but is rarely observed. We are so surrounded by hireling preachers that we think a well paid worldly preacher is normal, even admirable.

“You don’t really think that the more money he gets, the more spiritually insightful he will be, do you?

Like so many other things – “You get what you pay for.” If you pay for a hireling preacher, you will get a hireling preacher. The more you pay him, the more biased and more of a hireling he will be. You don’t really think that the more money he gets, the more spiritually insightful he will be, do you?

Though the KJV obscures it a little, it is pretty plain to see that in 1Corinthians 2:9-16, Paul is stating flat out that worldly people know worldly things, but spiritual insights are given to spiritual people.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

These worldly quasi-Christian preachers were abundant already in Paul’s time, as he tells Timothy in 2Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Paul was not “peddling” or selling his gospel-preaching services as most of today’s preachers do. He was not asking for charity, or money, and certainly not expecting to receive tithe by any stretch of the imagination. If he did, then his statement in Acts 20:33 would be a lie: “Silver or gold, or apparel [extra apparel was form of wealth] of no one did I covet.”

Why? – Because he (and the others) did not want to become known as a hireling, nor did he want to be a slave to unrighteous mammon as was the case with many paid preachers back then, as well as today. Paul considered his previous beliefs, worldly priorities and previously held material possessions to be no more than dung (Phil 3:8). This attitude is the mark of a true man of God.

They were living the lifestyle clearly instructed by Jesus in Luke 12:15-31:

“Be not anxious for this life”. Possessions mean nothing; preach, and let God provide.

Philippians 4:11-12 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

Once again, the KJV that I quoted here makes it a bit difficult to understand, but what Paul is saying he has been instructed to take it as it comes: in need or well supplied, hungry, filled, he can take material goods or leave it. That is a reference to the ground rules laid out by Jesus to His disciples. Accepting more than basic necessities would have been gross disobedience and profiteering, just as Gehazi attempted in 2Kings 5:20-27.

Paul had the spiritual strength and discipline to be content under all conditions. Though he may have enjoyed comfort like anyone else, it was really not a primary issue with him. (In contrast, “my” old comfort-laden, well paid preachers made it a point to say how “tough” their job was.)

Acts 16:15 is a good example of the hospitality-as-payment that Paul was talking about. “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

As well as Acts 15:33-4 “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

In neither case of these highly motivated new Christians is there a record of them offering money at all, let alone tithe money, to enrich Paul and his associates. By contrast, the preachers that I have known personally would reject the Scriptural hospitality and fellowship of staying at someone’s home, and instead insist on staying in a hotel when they travel.

Matthew 10:41-2 sets the humble tone for the men of God: “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

Some of you might say of Paul’s lifestyle “well, who would ever want to live a dog’s life like that? We would never find a real preacher!”

That is the materialistic view and as mentioned above, in today’s world it is also probably true. Without their financial desires being fulfilled by having an income higher than 80-90% of those who tithe to them, those who were “called by God to preach” would suddenly be “called” to something that involved a pay check, commissions, and a retirement account. That is just as well, since having no preacher at all is better than having a hireling preacher.

Matthew 13:22-3 talks about the parable of the sower: “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Luke 8:14-5 adds a little more information: “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”

So those concerned about getting rich are portrayed as not having an honest and good heart necessary for receiving the truth of the Word. This lesson applies to us all, but especially any preacher that you listen to. How can anyone hope to rise above materialism as the Word instructs, by listening to a worldly, thorny preacher who promotes something as blatantly false as the myth of the tithe?

A well known quote goes something like: “The problems facing humanity today cannot be solved with the same level of consciousness that created them.” The same can be applied to the personal and collective state of disobedience to Christ; you can not logically expect solutions to worldly sinfulness to come from a preacher who is himself immersed in worldly desires.

That is exactly why Paul obeyed the standard of poverty practiced by John the Baptist and Jesus. He did it to separate the wheat from the chaff of the preachers of his day. A non-materialistic lifestyle actually gives strength to the spiritual, while it is an intolerable royal pain to those who are worldly.

2Corinthians 12:9-10 “ And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

It is called the “nothing to lose” strategy, and it is not for prideful, selfish or materialistic people. Nor is it for those who seek the comfort of money rather than the sufficiency of God’s grace, as stated above.

The standard of material poverty (the practice actually dated back to the prophets) was intended to weed out the counterfeit “men of God” that existed then, and of course it still does.

For example, Amos 7:12-16 reads: “Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and earn your bread there, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I am no prophet, neither was I of a prophet’s guild; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of wild figs: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.”

So what was Amos saying – “I am not a prophet but I’m a prophet”? No, not exactly. He pointed out the distinction that he was not a professional prophet or a member of the “prophet’s union”, but was instead a true prophet of God.

So even way back then you had a cottage industry of “profit prophets”, and then there were the true prophets like Amos that were drafted by God into service, and who had to be content with basic food and clothing, living one day to the next on what God provided. These were two totally different groups of people.

Micah condemns taking money as payment for doing God’s work, considering it corruption and hypocrisy in 3:11 – “Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD saying, ‘Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us.’”

Notice that he does not say “instruct falsely for a price” or “divine falsely for money”. Just the fact that they were being paid at all in cash was sin enough for Micah to condemn it, let alone any issues of corrupt teachings and false prophesies that came as a result of it.

Samuel never accepted a dime for his prophesy (1Sam 12:3-4). Moses had zero financial gain for his part in leading Israel out of bondage (Numbers 16:15).

In 2Kings 5:19-27 Elisha and Gehazi showed us that financial payment for spiritual services is forbidden, with dire consequences for greedy Gehazi. This story is well worth taking a moment to read, and then compare to today’s preachers.

Zechariah 11:12-13 records the nobles giving the prophet a payment of silver, which was regarded as an insult and which he was in turn instructed by God to cast into the temple for charity purposes like a hot potato.

1Kings 14:3, the prophet Ahaijah was given food and honey as an offering by the king. Gifts like this, not cash, were proper and typical for a true man of God.

And again, Amos took exception to being thought of as a professional prophet (Amos 7:12-15), Paul certainly accepted no money as payment for doing God’s work (Acts 20:32-34, numerous others)

What then, is the take-away lesson from all this?

The lesson is that when we look at the sum teaching of scripture, we see that we are not to be paid for teaching God’s Word, or performing a baptism or wedding or funeral service, or for preaching. This ban includes cash gifts in any amount more than that needed for immediate basic necessities and for the expenses incurred by the preacher.

Prophets were not to expect payment for revealing God’s messages. “Filthy lucre” as Peter calls it, is not God’s intended payment for His workers. It is not that money itself is “filthy” – it is just (in theory) a means to store and transport value. There is nothing wrong with money that is paid to a field laborer, for example, who in turn takes it to buy himself some bread.

The money is made “filthy” by the heart and intent of the one who obtains it immorally. Such as: money that is stolen, obtained by fraud, used to corrupt or for evil purposes such as the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas, or as I have pointed out – money for preaching.

Deuteronomy 23:18 says “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog,into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

Is this price that is being spoken of here a certain numerical amount, or instead does God care where the offerings come from? Obviously, it is the source of the money that is the issue here. He apparently does not want the negative energy that attaches itself to dirty money to contaminate the temple, just as He did not want the selfish or lackadaisical spirit that attaches itself to an inferior lamb brought up for sacrifice. It is not necessarily the money or lamb that God cares about, it is the pure energy and spirit of devotion, submissiveness, selflessness, empathy and willingness of the giver that accompanies these items that is important. The material gift to the recipient is just the means of delivering the real gift to God, which is the spirit of sacrifice that comes from the giver. This can take place any time, whether it involves feeding the poor, or being kind to animals.

That is why Ananias and Sapphira checked in to the Dirt Pile Hotel in Acts 5:1-10. Even though they gave a substantial amount of money, their gift was polluted by the spirit of deception. God is spirit, so it appears that a higher level of selfless, honest, generous spiritual energy is what He wants. He does not appreciate disingenuous spirits that are deceitful, prideful, or hypocritical.

That is why His workmen, those called “men of God” must be non-materialistic; so their energy and spirit remain uncontaminated by worldly desires and they can be as in-tune with God as they can possibly be. That is the purposes of fasting, ashes, and sackcloth. They deprive a person of as much physical comfort as possible as a means of focusing them in on the spiritual.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying physical comforts and even temporary luxuries when they present themselves, just as Jesus did, but a true man of God needs to have the discipline to leave such pleasures just as quickly as he accepted them, and to be just as content either way.

A man with the cares and pleasures of the world on his mind is at best a handicapped advisor. They may have perhaps some sound practical advice or experience to offer, but a very limited value as a true spiritual influence to others.

It then goes without saying that someone who desires worldly delights and comfort so much that he will cheat, steal, or deceive others to get it, has a negative value to the Christian community. In other words you are better off not even knowing or associating with such a person, because he is going to justify his immoral actions with false teachings to indicate that his behavior is “righteous”.

In 2Corinthians 11:12 Paul writes: “What I am doing, I will continue to do (self imposed poverty) that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.”

Paul is saying that there were some bad preachers that wanted to establish an illusion of legitimacy. He calls them “wicked men and impostors” in 2Timothy 3:13.

In Philippians 3:17-19 Paul says “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”

Do not forget, these are not atheists or pagans or Satanists that Paul is talking about here. These people wore the guise of Christians, but were preachers made up their own self-serving doctrines, and who wanted to be considered as being just as legitimate and authoritative as Paul and the true Christians were, while at the same time were “minding earthly things” like financial gain.

For example Acts 20:29-31 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”

Because of Paul’s example of self-discipline and devotion to God’s instructions for His workers, the false preachers who wanted to make the claim that they represented God’s truth, would have to live up to the original standard of material poverty in order to be identified as a true worker of God. That original Old Covenant standard was met and exceeded by Jesus, and lived by Paul, Peter, Timothy, Titus, etc.

This standard of walking the walk, and living the talk of non-materialism that Paul followed was one that the phonies could not meet. Thus it separated the sheep from the goats, and still does so to this day for those who know what it is about.

Paul says in Phil 3:17 “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

Paul’s instruction of non-materialism appears to be diametrically opposed to that of at least one pro-tithe preacher who claimed in his CD series that when Jesus said “the harvest is great, but the laborers are few”, (Matt 9:37-38, Luke 10:2) His intention and meaning was that the laborers were few because there was not enough money to hire more of them. Yes, you read that right.

The point of that preacher being that you are defying Jesus’ prayer and wishes for more preachers by not tithing, apparently because men of God will not preach unless they are paid for it.

So then I have to ask: If that was the case, and money was an issue as this pro-tithe preacher says, then why did Jesus not simply hire more disciples for the harvest? Problem solved. Why lament the fact that there were not enough laborers when Jesus could turn rocks into gold if He wished, and could have hired all the Gehazi-type preachers that He wanted?

Of course that man provided no scriptural evidence of his asinine claim, but again, that is a common trait of the pro-tithe preachers. They make these off-the-wall statements strategic times, and no one challenges them.

This man’s teaching sounds like “another Jesus” of 2Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:6-8 being preached, and that Paul warned us about.

This pro-tithe preacher’s position is a total materialistic antithesis of the type of people Jesus was looking for, and is yet another example of the type of fallacies that these yellow preachers resort to. But I guess, in all fairness, this paid preacher made that statement apparently because all he understandsis a worldly, materialistic perspective. “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

It implies to me that if he was with Jesus back then, that preacher would not have followed Jesus without being paid to do it, revealing an attitude that preaching is a business career to him just like becoming a banker, insurance agent or car salesman.

Galatians 5:17 tells us that the desires of this world (the flesh) is directly opposite to the will of the Spirit. Galatians 5 in general says that if the Spirit is dominant, a law is not needed because that person will do the right thing without ever having heard the law. The Law of God is there to control those who are dominated by fleshly, materialistic, worldly desires. That is why there are prohibitions against theft, treachery, and fraud; all of which are elements of the modern tithe doctrine.

Money is a shallow, worldly incentive to pay as compensation for worldly, physical tasks. If you want a house painted, for example, there is no shortage of people who will do it. If you want it finished in two weeks instead of three, some extra money will cause this to be done. Materialistic incentives get materialistic results.

Money can also help someone with a sincere, heartfelt caring, to accomplish what they need to do to help others, but money can not put the caring into the heart of someone who does not have it there to begin with. In that case all that more money can accomplish is to cause someone to pretend to care about others more; to put more effort into faking it while he takes more vacations and buys more investments.

Likewise more money does not put more spiritual insight into the heart of someone whose heart is already preoccupied by worldly matters such as gaining wealth. Galatians 5:17 says that self-indulgence in worldly desires is the antithesis of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, Romans 12:2 says that the way to understand the will of God is to first alienate yourself from materialism and worldly desires.

“Paul equates the act of taking payment for preaching with abusing his power in the gospel.”

How do you expect to learn things of the spirit from a man who prioritizes personal wealth? That is kind of like expecting a sumo wrestler to teach you how to play a violin. The tragedy is that there are thousands of preachers like him, and millions of Christians learning from them.

1Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Preachers such as this obviously value cash up front, as opposed to a reward in Heaven that Paul speaks of in 1Corinthians 9:17-18 “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.”

So, Paul equates the act of taking payment for preaching with abusing his power in the gospel. What is his “power in the gospel”? That is another whole discussion, but let us just say that it is the trust that people put in their teacher to tell the truth. If it was not good for Paul to abuse that trust by using it as leverage to obtain money, then today’s preachers should not abuse their position of trust by taking or soliciting money for themselves either; if they claim to be a true man of God.

The scriptural wages of a true man of God are clearly defined in scripture, as we have seen thus far, and that subject is covered more completely in Chapter 27 “Real Men of God Don’t Want Money”.

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