In Chapter 18 we established the moneyless lifestyle instructed for true Christian preachers. Let us investigate this fact a little further in this chapter as it applied to the Apostles.
Second Corinthians 11:12 “But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.”
The pro tithers take this verse and interpret it to say that Paul should have been receiving tithe money, but that his opponents would have used this as an excuse to say that Paul was in it for the money in order to discredit him. So Paul chose not to take the money that he “really would have liked to have gotten”; and that the servants of Satan were the ones who were causing Paul to hold off on getting the money that was due him.
After all, a successful preacher should be a financially successful preacher, according to the conventional worldly standards of today’s preachers.
By reading the scripture in context we see that the events were in fact the exact opposite of the pro-tithe description of what was happening. Paul had the integrity to obey the instructions of poverty that prevented false teachers from claiming equal standing with the true workers of God.
It was these opponents of Paul who wanted him to take the money, just as today’s pro-tithe preachers want you to think that Paul wanted to take the money. The reason being that the false teachers of Paul’s time (as well as those of today) could then “be regarded just as we [Paul, etc] are”.
2Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
Paul dreaded the thought of being compared in any way to the self-promoting, worldly preachers of his day.
The second half of that scripture describes hireling preachers who compare themselves only to other hireling preachers of their own ilk. By doing this they can make themselves look ideally qualified to represent God and His Word, but only because they will not ever seriously compare themselves to the clear standards that scripture has set for men claiming such a position.
If Paul abandoned the non-materialistic life style, it would remove one of the big differentiations that set him and his associates apart from the false preachers. If Paul allowed himself to fall to the worldly levels of his opposition, then they would all preach, and the standard would have been set for preachers to take money for preaching. Thus, in the eyes of the listeners the false preachers would have been considered just as Godly and on somewhat equal terms with Paul and the other true preachers, because the un-Godly standard of a paid preacher would then have been established.
Apparently that is what the false preachers have always wanted: To be considered just as Godly and credible as the genuine men of God, while they evade the standard of non-materialism set by the true prophets of old that had been carried over to the New Covenant. Once they have achieved that façade of legitimacy, they could then exploit that trust, “abuse their power in the gospel”, and promote their false doctrines all day long, while getting wealthy doing so.
If the prohibition remained, there would always be a distinct delineation between the commercial religious speakers and the true men of God that would clearly identify who was who.
Paul cut off the false preachers’ chance at being equal by sticking true to the instructions of Jesus for His workers. The adherence to which would evermore be the mark of a true man of God, but which is considered as absurd, even impossible by preachers (and many congregations) today.
2Timothy 3:4-5 speaks of such doubters: ” Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:”
Paul, Peter, Timothy, and other men throughout history have proven that it is not absurd nor is it impossible to live such a life devoted to God: shunning shallow worldly pleasures in favor of spiritual fulfillment, while acknowledging the power of God to provide for their needs day after day after day.
Second Corinthians 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.”
2Corinthians 4 16-18 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
These men were tough, disciplined, and devoted. Paul is discussing the concept of hardships that are willingly, even eagerly endured as being a source of power to a man of God. That word “distresses” above, means dire material need, or poverty. This agrees with the statement that Jesus made in Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:29 indicating that prayer is enhanced by fasting (physical deprivation).
So if worldly deprivation, or weakness, empowers spiritual reception and understanding, then what does worldly (financial) strength, comfort, and self-indulgence of modern preachers lead to?
What do you think Paul meant when in 1Corinthians 4:15 he said “For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers [role models]:”?
Here in a few verses is a description of God’s true ministers:
2Corinthians 6:4-10 “Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.
By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
I guess Paul forgot to mention the part about collecting tithe money, vacations, investment in stocks, fishing trips, real estate holdings and all the other perks that come with “surrendering all for Christ” and becoming a preacher.
Proverbs 13:7 is a lesson to remember: “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” Faith and attitude is the source of contentment and spiritual riches for some people, not money.
Worldliness is a natural tendency to begin with, but the art of advertising and social manipulation has made it a learned vice for many today; even an addiction for some. Materialistic desires have been taken to extremes unimagined a hundred years ago. It has also led to suicides, depression and unhappiness, even among the wealthy, in numbers unheard of in the past century.
Luke 6:20-24, “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.”
Jesus said that the hungry will be filled, and those who weep shall laugh, etc; in other words their suffering will be alleviated by obtaining that which they lack. In Luke 6:20 He said “blessed are ye poor, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Have you ever wondered why it does not say “blessed are the poor, for they shall become rich”? That word “poor” means dirt poor – owning nearly nothing like a pauper.
Or why does it not say “Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”?
Becoming materially rich may be fine if it happens while maintaining Christian principles, but it is not something that should be a primary purpose of life for Christians, nor should it be achieved at the price of detriment of others.
This may give a frame of reference as to why Paul chose poverty over wealth. It shows where his priorities were. But today’s pro-tithers seek the unjust wealth generated by the modern tithe doctrine, so what is fundamentally wrong with this picture? What spirit is actually ruling these “spiritual leaders” who are seeking these enormous sums of tithe money?
2Corinthians 12:14 backs up the above point by saying “I come not for yours, but you”; which in other translations reads “I come not for your wealth, but you”.
If you read on through verse 19, it more clearly establishes the point that Paul did not want wealth.
That is why, when Paul was presented with supplies from the church of Macedonia, and he was in a situation that required him to accept those supplies, in 2Corinthians 11:8 Paul used the term “I robbed [also “plundered”, “despoiled”, “defrauded”, depending on translation] other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.”
Is that not an odd way for him to state the situation if he felt he had it coming as today’s preachers claim they do? They say they are being robbed if they do not get support.
Paul apparently had reason to believe that he was not entitled to receive material that he had not directly earned through service.
What about that word “wages” that Paul used. The pro-tithers are pretty quiet about that one. In their quest for indications that New Covenant workers should be paid money, you can rest completely assured that they have extensively strip-mined the scriptures and checked the original Greek for this word hoping to find any kind of monetary connotation to use in exploiting that phrase.
The Greek word for “wages” is Strong’s Concordance #3800: “neut. of a presumed der. of the same as #3795; rations for a soldier, i.e. (by extens) his stipend or pay:- wages”.
I do not think I need to elaborate too much on the fact that soldiers got basic food, clothing, medical help, and shelter as their “wages” through most of history, and though some money may have been added to that, it was minimal, amounting to little more than pocket money. It certainly would not be considered a lavish, or even materially comfortable lifestyle.
This also ties in with Paul’s view of himself and fellow workers as “soldiers” (Philippians 2:25, Philemon 1:2).
That term “(by extens)” means “by extension”. This indicates that in certain cases one could assume, or read into that word an indication of money, but that is only an assumption. “Stipend or pay” is a term that can also be referring to an allotment of food or other such items. For example some 18th century sailors were paid in rum, not money, but it was still called their payment.
Money is not the primary meaning of #3800 which, as it states, means “rations of a soldier”, so that scripture should more accurately read: “I robbed other churches, taking my rations of them, to do you service.”
Second Timothy 2:3-4 confirms this clearly “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
This description of a soldier’s wage matches exactly with Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in Luke 10:7 in which Jesus says ” Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.
Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, 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.
And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:”
So we can see that words like “ration” or “stipend” which define the word “wages” as Paul uses it, are pretty accurate, according to what Jesus instructs.
This Greek word #3800 is used only two other times in the New Covenant.
Once, as we might expect, in Luke 3:14 “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”
And once metaphorically in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In 2Corinthians 7:2 Paul wrote “Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man”.
What did Paul mean when he said that they “defrauded” no man? In the context of all of his writings it means he accepted no money or material profit under any false pretenses for preaching God’s Word.
I do not intend to dissect every comment of scripture on the subject, because I think you get the picture. Once you start to read scripture for what it says, you will often see this message about non-materialistic humility for God’s workers, as well as the scriptural condemnation of both the crooked preachers and the preacher/money matrix that exists today. In fact Scripture is actually kinder to tax collectors and prostitutes than it is to worldly preachers (priests, false prophets, etc.) as a whole (Matt 21:31).
We do not even need to go into the subject of Pharisees, or other Old Covenant corrupt priests and scriptural “dumb greedy dog” examples such as Isaiah 56:11, or the whole chapter of Ezekiel 34; we would be here all day.
The point is that God had a high non-materialistic standard for His prophets and teachers in the first place, and He continued those standards going from the Old Covenant to the New. He has given us examples for all of us to strive to match, but particularly for His workers to live up to. It appears that a replay of the Levitical corruption and Pharisaical arrogance and greed is not the intended outcome of the New Covenant teachings. Yet, look around; look around objectively, what do you see today?
Many contemporary preachers in pulpits (every single one that I have gotten to know, actually), regardless of their preaching on other issues have ignored God’s prohibitions and non-materialistic restrictions for His workmen, and have pursued preaching as a business career and means of profit.
Make no mistake:
These are the kinds of preachers that Jesus, Paul, Peter, James John and Jude warned us about.
Do not be astonished like they were in Mark 11:18, when the moneychangers were evicted from the temple. As you can see, I am not promoting the “crooked preacher” concept because I sat in the dark of the new moon and just decided to make it up. Scripture backs up this idea plentifully, and living examples in modern society demonstrate the fact all too clearly.
|“…don’t confuse a preacher like this who is a commercial businessman in the religion business, with a scripturally defined man of God.”|
1Corinthians 4:1-2 says: “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case moreover it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”
Titus 1:7 – “For an overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, not a wine-bibber, no striker, not fond of filthy lucre;”
Keep in mind that if someone is willing to intentionally deceive and conceal truth in order to obtain more money, you can safely assume that he cannot be “found trustworthy” and that he’s also “fond of filthy lucre”, and is the type of person these scriptures are referring to.
The term “self willed” refers to the junk preaching that we so often encounter which falls outside of the bounds of scripture; biased interpolations and sophistry used to support the preacher’s desired (self willed) conclusions.
Free Market Economy
If your preacher wants to be paid, or wants to sell books or tapes, etc. that is up to him. It is a free entrepreneurial market, just like the moneychangers were involved in – making a buck the best way they knew how.
These preachers may have good teachings from time to time, even excellent, but that is all part of the game. They pretty much have to preach some truth in order to establish a basis of credibility to work from. Do not assume however, that he has anywhere near the truth he claims to have just because he is a preacher, or quotes the Bible, or makes you feel good.
Moreover and perhaps more importantly, do not make the mistake of confusing a preacher like this who is a commercial businessman in the religion business, with a scripturally defined man of God. Nor should you feel in any way that you owe the same heed and respect to the former that legitimately belongs to the Godly position and status of the latter.
And whatever you do, never let yourself think that you owe either one of them 10% of your income. The preacher does not deserve it, and the true man of God will not take anything identified as “tithe” because they would have a much higher moral standard than that.
Nor should you ever think that even your freewill gifts of money to a man’s business can in any way be construed as “giving to God”, just because his proprietorship or corporation happens to be in the religion industry.
The setting, the pomp and ceremony, the preaching techniques, the “feel good” mood; they are all based more on industrial psychology principles of manipulation than on spiritual truth or a calling from God.