THE MINISTER AND MONEY
By: Jesse F. Williams
Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners and has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation. The world has over five billion people who desperately need the salvation Jesus died to provide. The message of salvation is foolishness to some, and they will not embrace it. That is sad, but the greatest of tragedies is those untold numbers of people who will be lost, not because they rejected the message, but because they rejected the messenger. Great harm has come to the cause of Christianity because some of its messengers did not have integrity.
By far, most ministers of the gospel are sincere and honest men, but the failure of one brings reproach upon many. Such a failure is very grievous to God, as the words of Nathan to David indicate: “Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (II Samuel 12:14).
Due to the failure of some well-known televangelists, a shadow has been cast upon the Christian ministry in recent years. Warren Wiersbe declared, “Not only is the conduct of the church in question, but so is the very character of the church.” It is necessary that every minister be not only scrupulously honest but also very careful that his good not be evil spoken of (Romans 14:16).
The apostle Paul instructed, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). Of all people, God’s ministers should have the highest integrity, and their integrity should be obvious to everyone within and without the church. One of the requirements for ministry is that a man be blameless (I Timothy 3:2). It is a fundamental contradiction that one would feign to represent the holy God and not he honest.
Years ago a man declared to me that God would overlook some of his actions (dishonesty) because he preached the truth of God’s Word. There is no basis for such a statement; in fact, the Scripture definitely teaches otherwise: “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, . . . and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? . . . And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; . . . I will cast you out of my sight. . . . Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:8-16). “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
There are many warnings in the Scripture concerning our relationship with money. The pitfalls are numerous, but we can negotiate around them if we will do two things. First, we must always ensure that our attitude toward money is proper, and second, we must stay informed in the right methods of accounting for it.
Since the spiritual element is certainly the most important, let us look at what our attitude should be concerning money. We know there is nothing inherently wrong with having money. There were both rich and poor among God’s servants in the Bible; however, “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). Jesus modeled the best life, and He chose to live very simply. The Scripture warns, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare” (I Timothy 6:9). Keeping money in its proper place, as our servant and not our master, is of utmost importance.
If our attitude towards money is in accordance with Scripture, we will not be tempted to sacrifice honesty for material gain. We would do well to reevaluate our relationship with money often and keep ourselves free from its deceitful aspects.
Gary D. Erickson has explained the danger of money well:
Money is not immoral, but it is dangerous . . . .Jesus did not speak of money in a neutral way when he called riches “the mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke 16:9). He also spoke about the “deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22). Jesus seemed to be warning of an inherent evil connected with money. Paul saw this evil power in money when he wrote under inspiration, “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10)
(The above material appeared in the April–June, 1992 issue of the Forward magazine.)
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