Response to Money Reflects Faithful or Fake Ministers/Ministries

To undershepherds serving faithfully under the Chief Shepherd, Peter writes (5:1-4):

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

In addition to the text above regarding those in pastoral ministry, consider these texts and how overseers ought to consider money, (both of these are from the longer list of qualifications for the overseer):

“an overseer must . . . not [be] a lover of money” (1 Tim. 3:3)

“For an overseer . . . must not be . . . greedy for gain” (Tit. 1:7)

Those who have embraced the “glorious gospel” (1 Tim. 1:11) are to avoid the temptation of riches and beware of the love of money (1 Tim. 6:9-12; Lk. 12:15). Because of the gospel, the “man of God” has been called to a different life marked by that gospel. Please note the sharp contrast, “but as for you, O man of God,” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:14; 4:5; Tit. 2:1): the “you” is for emphasis, and the “but” is adversative, contrasting Timothy with the false teachers who desire to get rich (1 Tim. 6:9) and teach incorrect doctrine (1 Tim. 6:3).

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In fact, Paul reminds us that being a lover of money is a mark of the last days (2 Tim. 3:2).

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

It also is a mark, more specifically, of false prophets (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Covetousness, which includes money and the things money can buy, is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Make sure this is rightly defined as that which replaces God, and put it in the context of remembering how God responds to idolatry (e.g. Ex. 32).

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

A love of money and an aspiration to attain money through ministry disqualifies one for ministry. Even further, it calls into question one’s faith at all, as it is more reflective of false prophets and the world, not one transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

With this in mind, I grieved as I read this brief article by Jeremy Weber, “Nigerian Pastors Arrested For Fake Deliverances,” Christianity Today (CT) Liveblog (June 20, 2012):

Four pastors in central Nigeria have been arrested for faking "deliverances" at a revival in order to raise money for the book launch of one of the pastors, according to Koji state police.

"This is not robbery, it is pure professionalism," said arrested pastor Chuks Ingalis Kelvin, according to the Daily Trust. "Every profession has its own method. The police have their own, lawyers have their own, even journalists have their own way. What I did is pure business and survival instinct."

The explanation of this CT article from over a year ago addresses a similar problem: “Ghana’s church planting boom has left denominations struggling to keep opportunists out of pulpits.” Here is the article: “Magic Words: Ghanaian Churches Confront Fake Pastors,” Christianity Today 55/5 (May 2011), 20.

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