Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." - Proverbs 22:1

Forbidden fruits create many jams. A persistently covetous man cannot hold a position of responsibilty in the church. It is important, and often looked by many of us, that covetousness is a sin that cries out for disciplinary action (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). In God's assessment, covetousness is just as grievous in His sight as immorality and idolatry. While the latter two are obvious whenever a man indulges himself in them, covetousness is hidden in one's heart most of the time, but once in a while, it surfaces to expose the guilty man. If this happens, he should be disqualified for leadership position in church such as being a pastor. If he is pugnacious, or fails to take care of his own household, or is a drunkard, everybody in church, leaders in particular must agree to the point that he must be forfeited of his rights and privileges (and even honor) to minister. By the same token, covetousness disqualifies him, for he is meant to be generous, hospitable and loving - not lusting, and not always craving for more material things such as a big house, a new car, and perhaps to be more physical - a new mistress. And so, the church should not be lenient nor should act in haste. When a pastor shows by his lifestyle that covetousness is a characteristic of his own personality, then the church would be in a position, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, to take disciplinary measures against him. Sad to say, other churches would do the opposite. God has entrusted the church to judge with righteous judgement and not allow blatant and recurring sin. How many times has this happened? Count the fingers of your hand. It is of primary importance then that a minister of the church be unaccusable and irreproachable. If a blameworthy man is placed into the ministry, being in the lead, the whole church and the testimony of the gospel suffers and is brought to a poor level to that of pagans and infidels. The doctrine he preaches, prosperity and all, even though they may be sound, will be discredited. Even his self-will, being carnal, is a sign of pride and arrogance. To be steadfast in your mission is commendable, but to be stubborn in your error will lead to over-confidence, which is a denial of the very grace of God a pastor should instead be proclaiming. The arrogant man, if placed in ministry, will not think twice of making a shipwreck out of his faith and other people's faith because he is not willing to confess his faults and make amends. Also, a pastor who views some female sheep in his flock as slabs of steak or even mere morsels of meat, and indulges often in beer and wine will soon be a victim of his own vice. His mind will not be clear and lucid, as is the requirement for shepherds who are meant to watch over the health of the flock (not the wealth or vital statistics of the flock). His intellectual capacity must be clear and sharp, and a lover of wine shall never be so. A preacher whose teachings circumnavigate only on financial gain and prosperity can in no sense be a representative of Him who said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath nowhere to lay His head." (Luke 9:58, Matthew 8:20). Sad to say, throughout church history, we hear of cases where promising ministries were destroyed because the preacher was given to base gain. We still hear of them to this day. Check out your neighborhood fastfood joints. They're there, short of advertising to the crowd, "Only the rich are welcome in my church. If you're poor, try the fastfood outlet next-door." A man who is fond of money is not necessarily an embezzler. But a man may join a good cause and seek the pastoral office for the sake of material advantage. Likewise, Peter warns against such: "Feed the flock of God which is among you." (1 Peter 5:2). God excludes men from the ministry who have a mercenary spirit going out in search of riches, anxious to add to his possessions regardless of whether legitimate or not, whether fair or foul. A greedy person lays his own snare, into which he will ultimately fall. Judas betrayed Christ for a paltry sum of money. It is a mystery why greedy pastors seek the ministry to enrich themselves, when there are other venues available for them like the networking business of selling new-age garbage. In conclusion, the over-all impression is the Godly and mature character of the man, all-rounded, as James says, "Perfect, lacking in nothing." He is grown-up in all aspects of life. The term "covetous" is similar to "given to filthy lucre." This concentrates more on the intent and purpose of the man to enrich himself with earthly goods. Such a person in ministry will prove dishonest and will not be able to handle the financial aspect of his calling, thus bringing disrepute upon himself and his associates. A church having annointed teachers and pastors may not be the most popular church in town. On the other hand, a popular church may also have pastors of ill-repute, whose heart is planted on earthly treasures alone. Such churches will only have the numbers. But it all ends there. Again, our Lord said, "Feed my sheep." He didn't say, "Count them." In fact, He didn't even say, "Eat them." Indeed, Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.

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