Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:12-17
“You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us” [2 Corinthians 2:17 NLT]
After more than fifty years in Christian ministry I recognise that one of the most difficult issues for Christian workers and churches is finance. I learned this very early on, when I mentioned to my stepfather that I enjoyed Billy Graham’s preaching, only for him denigrate this great preacher and say that he was only after people’s money. I discovered some years later that Billy Graham only took a Baptist pastors salary for himself and had a wonderful name for integrity among evangelicals.
Even in the Early Church there was an issue of people making money from God’s Word. Paul speaks about not peddling God’s Word as if it was a business to make money [verse 17, Amplified Bible]. This must have been an issue that some people had raised in Corinth, and used to criticize Paul and his ministry as an apostle, which is why he says that he and his team were not like that.
Many years ago my wife and I made a decision that we could share of how God miraculously provides but not to make our financial needs known. At times this has meant abundance and at other times shortage. In whatever situation we find ourselves it means learning to be content knowing that God is control. I recognise that not everybody would take the same position that my wife and I have taken, and that Christian organisations do need funds to continue their ministries, although sometimes I struggle with being constantly bombarded with requests to give more money. We should not doubt the value of good Christian causes, books, materials and preaching, but the issue behind everything that we do must be a pure and transparent motive.
There was a time in my own life when money was short and we had a young family. Although I always wanted to bless people with God’s Word, it was a temptation to be ministering for money, and my motives became mixed. That can be the beginning of a long road downwards. I praise God that He delivered me from this danger, but for some great and highly gifted Christian leaders it has caused them to stumble and fall. Let’s walk in transparency, and with proper accountability in everything that we do, so that in no way we bring the name of Jesus or the truth into disrepute.
Why do you think it is that money can be such a temptation and the downfall of Christian leaders?
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17-19. What does Paul say to Timothy about the dangers of material riches?
Are their ways in which we could simplify our lifestyle and bless others?