In continuation of my posts concerning the subjects of money and the deception of tithe teaching, I want to take a look at several Scripture passages that are relevant.
2Thess 3:5-16 is one such passage and is a glimpse into the personal monetary practices and lifestyle of Paul. I have never heard a power point sermon on these Scriptures but they are clear, to the point and difficult to misunderstand.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.
For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you.
We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you.
We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.
Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work, will not get to eat.”
Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.
We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.
As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.
Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed.
Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.
2Thess 3:6-15 NLT
How many “leaders” in the church today can say as Paul did, “We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night….we wanted to give you an example to follow.”
[And how many of us will obey this command to stay away from those “leaders” who do not follow Paul’s example in this area, and to warn them about their actions?]
While there are many in ministry today who would desire the results that Paul experienced, there are few who would sign up for the life of self denial and sacrifice that Paul lived.
Instead, today the majority of church leaders and heads of ministries live off of the generosity of their parishioners and donors. The reasoning is, these leaders are called into “full time ministry” and this entitles them to sometimes exorbitant monetary compensation for their efforts. Their excessively lavish lifestyles are attributed to the “blessing of God”.
There are wealthy “heads of ministry” and their families driving the most expensive cars available, draped in designer clothing and jewelry and living in multi-million dollar homes, all paid for by the “donations of their partners in the ministry”.
All over America you can find local pastors living in all expenses paid parsonages, with perks such as insurance coverage, paid vacations and clothing allowances, all of which are paid for by the “tithes and offerings of parishioners”.
While these leaders undoubtedly are “busy” and not necessarily sitting on the couch or in the coffee shop all day, the fact remains, this kind of “busyness” [business] is not the kind of labor Paul was involved in “day and night so we wouldn’t be a burden to any of you”.
So the question arises, all this “busyness” [business] that church and ministry leaders are involved in, is it of the Spirit? Or is it a means to build establishments and man made, man operated and man glorifying kingdoms?
Is this “busyness” beneficial to the body of Christ? Or does it keep the majority of church goers babyish and dependant on leaders to hear from God for them, to pray to God for them and thus abdicate to a mere man the position of Jesus as High Priest of their lives?
There is an elitism, hierarchy and spirit of entitlement in the modern day established church that is not endorsed by Jesus, nor will He continue to tolerate it.
He made a whip and drove the profiteers out of the temple once and He will do it again. He will again throw over the money changer tables stacked with materials to sell and call His people back to prayer as the means of knowing Him.
This problem is not isolated to church leadership. It is pervasive in the world and has developed inroads into much of the established church laity in their everyday lives. Many are content to live off of government programs with no conviction whatsoever to attempt to “earn their own living” as commanded in this scripture.
Where are the “examples” today to help correct this sin? Examples like Paul.
God commands us as believers to help the poor, including the widows and orphans, however those “unwilling to work” do not qualify as the poor!
He calls those with wealth to be willing to share [as led by Him, obviously] and we are commanded in this scripture to, “Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed.”
I believe that means your money should “stay away from those who refuse to obey this letter” as well!
While there are scores of leaders sorely lacking in being the example that Paul and his team were in this area, this command is clearly to all believers, not just leaders.
“… we gave you this command, Those unwilling to work, will not get to eat”.