Friday, January 6, 2012

The Gospel Free of Charge, or Not?

Paul warns those who think godliness is a means to financial gain.

Some things are buried in the earth.”
(Photo by Bill Hunt c. 2011.)
Jesus, sending the disciples out to preach, teach, and heal, sent them to go in faith without basic provision, trusting for their keep.

v9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep (Mt 10:9-10 NIV).

Luke, as well as Matthew, reported this same instruction.
v3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt (Lk 9:3 NIV).
Jesus asked the disciples later if going in faith, they lacked anything.
v35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” 
Nothing,” they answered 
(Lk 22.35 NIV).

Paul the Apostle exercised the same faith, working instead to provide his own provision.

v8 Nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you (2 Th 3:8 NIV).

He mentioned his efforts at preaching free of charge different times in his epistles.

v18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel (1 Cor 9:18 NIV as also 2 Cor 11:7; 12:13; ).

Paul supported the rights of other apostles or ministers to seek provision.

v17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”and “The worker deserves his wages (1 Tim 5:17-18 NIV).”

However, Paul strongly warns against those ministers who would seek to use God's work as a means of financial gain.

v3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 6

But godliness with contentment is great gain  
(1 Tim:6:3-6 NIV). is one Christian site that profiles Public Charities, church and para-church ministries. It is also a place to learn about how to be a responsible giver. Although we may not agree with some decisions, we refer you to this source for your own information and discernment.
Each year produces a list of 30 Christian ministries they believe are among the most exemplary of the many great ministries doing the Lord's work.

Each year also produces a list of 30 ministries that engage in questionable practices that should cause donors to pause before giving.

They refer to this list as "Donor Alerts" as these organizations have various red flag issues including: revocation of tax-exempt status, government investigations of their practices, extremely high salaries, ties to cultic practices and more.

Donors should prayerfully consider not giving to these organizations due to the very serious flaws highlighted in each case.

I dare say you will be sadly surprised at key ministries who do not seem to exercise transparency, open honesty, or responsible stewardship toward donated funds used for God's work. Is it possible some are gathering funds into barns to hoard for their own wealth? Good stewardship does not hide from or seek to avoid responsible oversight.

Bill Hunt

"The LORD* will bless you and He will keep you.
The LORD* will make His face to shine upon you
and He will be gracious to you.
The LORD* will lift His countenance to you
and He will establish Shalom for you"
(Num 6:24-26 One New Man Bible, from the Hebrew).

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