I feel led of the Lord to address a very vital matter that is a stumbling block for many people that prevents them from receiving the ministry they desperately need for their life.
From the beginning of human history, God has always used people as vessels through whom to do what He wants to do on Earth. It would take quoting half the Bible to provide Scripture for that, so obviously that’s impractical here. But, anyone who knows much about the Bible and “His-story” knows that’s true. One Scripture sort of sums it all up for me: “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the EARTH He has given to the sons of men” (Psa. 115:16).
Beginning with Adam and Eve, God established Mankind as the surrogate caretakers of the Earth. So, God has always worked through human surrogates or stand-ins. What He does on Earth, He does primarily and preeminently through people — people acting as God’s human agents or operatives. The Bible is FULL of stories demonstrating that God works through people, and distributes what He distributes through people, and does whatever He does through people.
Ministry—of all things—is the same. Genuine, God-called, God-appointed ministers are God’s select surrogates through whom He distributes blessings and all manner of ministry. Not to say that one cannot receive directly from Him as a result of your intimacy with Him, particularly when you’ve drawn near to Him and He then has drawn near to you. Of course, direct, personal ministry from God is also a reality. But, the fact is that sometimes God chooses to do what He does — even regarding ministry — through someone else, a fellow human, rather than directly. In fact, if that were not true, there would be no need at all for ministers.
Jesus gave a word of instruction to the original apostles that is also a word to everyone in the ministry in all ages, though actually the most frequently quoted part of that word is only one part of the message He spoke: “FREELY you received, FREELY give!” (Mat. 10:8). While this word is one of the most important words He gave to His disciples, unfortunately it has also become one of the most misunderstood and misapplied words of Jesus. Many people whose hearts are not right even though they may claim to be Christians refer to this passage as proof text for their completely erroneous and ludicrous assertion that ministers should do all they do for free, i.e., without any compensation for their labors whatsoever. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth!
Here’s the greater context of that portion of what Jesus said that people often take out of context to make it say something Jesus was NOT saying:
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Mat. 10:7-16)
The word translated as “freely” has nothing whatever to do with money or ministering without the expectation of receiving compensation; rather it means “generously” or “abundantly” or “superfluously” A more accurate rendering would be: “Generously or abundantly you received, generously or abundantly give out of what you have generously or abundantly received.”
Jesus was saying to the apostles that God has generously endowed you with an overflowing anointing to minister supernaturally to people, and since that anointing comes from HIM in superfluity and not you, you need to be GENEROUS with your distribution of that anointing and power to those who need it. You are merely the human agent God is using to impart HIS supernatural power, so be generous with it!
By NO MEANS, however, was He telling the apostles to minister without compensation. That would be LUDICROUS for Him to say that! How long can a person minister on behalf of God without any income whatsoever to support himself? NOT LONG! Would God say that? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Don’t you think the Wisdom of God Almighty is greater and more practical than that? Don’t be ridiculous!
Nothing thrills genuine God-appointed ministers of God more than to be able to use the gifting and anointing God has bestowed upon them to minister to those who need it. They live for that, and fact is: they can’t live without ministering! Take ministry away from a true God-anointed and -appointed minister, and he WOULD soon die!
Again, what Jesus was referring to was MINISTRY not money. It had nothing to do with money or compensation. He was talking about being “free” or generous with the ministry entrusted to them in being a dispenser of it.
True Godly ministers never “charge for ministry,” as some malicious critics want to refer to it. Never! The ministry is Jesus’ ministry, not theirs anyway. It comes from Jesus! But, what ministers are entitled to be compensated for is their TIME that they give to ministry!
Everyone who is employed is doing the exact same thing! When a person works for a company that pays him/her, he/she is charging the employer for his/her time they spend contributing their skills, talents, and abilities. What your employer is actually paying you for is your time. If you are being paid by the hour, you are exchanging your time for the work you are required to do on your job. Millions of people in this nation alone are paid by the hour — it’s called “wages.” And, you know what, you would be highly offended if someone told you, you were not worthy of your wages! Well, Jesus said, “The worker is worthy of his wages!” All ministers are “workers” in the Kingdom of God — and to say or infer that they are not “worthy of their wages” is highly offensive to them and to God — because if the janitor, ditch-digger, and worker at a hamburger chain is worthy of his/her wages—AND THEY ARE! — so also is the person who has laid down his life and given up a plethora of things that would otherwise be available to them in order to minister Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom to you! (To me, the fact that almost no one would ever question the right of workers of such job-types as I just mentioned to be entitled to proper compensation, but believe that ministers of the Gospel of Christ should be excluded from compensation demonstrates their utter contempt for God, the Gospel, Christ, and ministers of God!)
There are a lot of myths floating around out in the world regarding this matter. There’s also a myth about the cow jumped over the moon, but do you believe that myth? The fact is: there’s nothing of any value and worth having in this world that is FREE, including ministry! Ministry is never free! Not from a financial standpoint and certainly not from the standpoint of all the enormous sacrifices every minister who has carried on the work of Christ since His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Every church in existence has bills that must be paid, from a mortgage to the electric bill, and every kind of bill any other business has, to the payroll for the employees, including the senior minister and every other staff minister, if they have any.
SOMEONE has to contribute the money needed to pay those bills! The “someone” SHOULD BE every adult who is attending that church and eating at the spiritual altar of that church. Every person who attends a church and never pays for the spiritual food they are receiving through freewill contributions is a THIEF and a spiritual felon!
When you go to a restaurant and order food, you are legally required to pay the bill for the food you ordered! It is not optional! You cannot say, “Well I’ll pay you some day when I get a little more money or when I can better afford it.” NO WAY! Try that next time you go to your favorite restaurant! See what happens! They’ll call the police on you, and if you don’t pay the bill, you’ll be arrested, thrown into jail, and be forced to appear in court before a judge, who will punish you for breaking the law.
If you are attending a church or receiving regularly from a ministry and never paying for the spiritual food you are eating there, you are breaking God’s laws, and He declares in Malachi that you are a thief and are robbing HIM!
So, the notion that ministers are supposed to work for free and without financial compensation is a complete and completely ridiculous lie! It’s nothing but a demonically-inspired MYTH! As I say, there’s a myth that the cow jumped over the moon, do you believe that too?! STOP BELIEVING MYTHS AND LIES AND AGREEING WITH THE DEVIL! It’s time to grow up, Church; myths are for infants! Are you an infant? It’s time to get over it; get off it; and get on with giving, and reaping the abundant harvest God promises to the cheerful givers who operate the natural and spiritual law of sowing and reaping (2 Cor. 9:5-15)!
However, there are also some hard-learned lessons I’ve learned over the years. Frankly, there are some people who will not agree with this aspect, no matter who says what, but another of those things I’ve learned over my years of serving the Lord is that “Father knows best!” and God is God, so I must follow what He says despite the disapproval or disagreement there may be by people (usually spiritually undeveloped people) who do not understand or agree with what I know He has taught me personally. The good news is that I’m not accountable to those people for my life and beliefs, nor are they accountable to me for theirs. I made the decision a long time ago to be a God-pleaser, and that being a man-pleaser bears no rewards and is a totally unattainable goal anyway.
Here’s some of the lessons He’s taught me:
1. Under the Old Covenant, no one would ever even think of approaching a king, prophet, or priest without bringing a gift (Naaman brought camel-loads of gifts to Elisha to seek healing of his leprosy; the Queen of Sheba brought trains of camel-loads of the the most valuable gifts in here domain to Solomon when she came to seek his wisdom and see his opulent wealth for herself) — how much more under the New Covenant wherein Jesus is the King should seekers honor His surrogate messengers and ministers.
2. Those seeking a word from God demonstrate how much they value the message of God as well as God Himself by how they honor His messengers.
3. God wants and even commands His genuinely anointed and appointed ministers to make their living from their ministry endeavors (1 Cor. 9:14), and does not want them to serve at their “own expense” (1 Cor. 9:7), or have to maintain a secular job as their primary source of income (1 Cor. 9:6).
4. It is God’s will and commandment that: those who plant a vineyard, eat the fruit of it, and those who tend a flock, drink the milk of it (1 Cor. 9:7); those who perform the sacred services of the temple (church), eat the food (tithe) God commanded the congregation to bring into the storehouse/temple for the priests to eat; those who attend regularly to the altar are entitled to their share of what is placed upon the altar (1 Cor. 9:13; Deut. 12:19; Mal. 3:10); the plowman ought to plow and the thresher ought to thresh in hope of sharing in the crops they have had a part in cultivating (1 Cor. 9:10).
5. Ministers whose function it is to sow spiritual things are entitled to receive material things from those to whom they minister (Gal. 6:6; Rom. 15:27; Mat. 10:10; Deut. 12:19; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 1 Tim. 5:17,18).
6. God’s attitude is that those who receive spiritual impartation from His genuine God-anointed, -appointed Fivefold Ministers actually incur a debt to minister back to them material things (Rom. 15:27).
7. It is NOT the will of God for ministers NOT to be compensated for their ministry endeavors (Mat. 10:10; Lk. 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18; et al.).
8. Never give away your anointing to those who do not value it (meaning, think it is not worthy of compensation to the spokesman) — doing so is “giving away what is holy to dogs” and “cast(ing) your pearls before swine” [“swine” and “dogs” are terms Jews used referring to “non-jews” or “non-believers”] (Mat. 7:6).
9. Those who genuinely value your ministry are those who prove themselves “worthy” of it; Jesus taught that those who are “worthy” of it are those who support the messenger sent by God (Mat. 10:5-15).
10. Those who are “worthy” of your ministry will always be thrilled to give back to you materially, according to God’s provision, for the spiritual impartation you’ve imparted to them (2 Cor. 9:7; Gal. 6:6; Rom. 15:27; Mat. 10:10; Deut. 12:19; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 1 Tim. 5:17,18).
11. Those who are not willing to minister back to you materially (financially) do not have a heart filled with the “good soil” (Mk. 4:1-20) required to “receive the word implanted which is able to save (sanctify) your souls” (Jas. 1:21), and thus the word will never produce fruit in their lives anyway, unless and until they repent and remove the rocks of rebellion and disobedience out of their hearts.
12. Those who are not in agreement with (oppose) the Biblical “ministry of giving and receiving” (Plp. 4:15) and concept of hilarious, rather than begrudging, willing, rather than compulsive, giving (1 Cor. 9:6,7), are opposed to and not in agreement with God in their hearts about anything; they’re just not right with God in their heart, no matter how religious and pious they purport and appear to be outwardly; they are “whitewashed tombs” (Mat. 23:27).
13. Those who “muzzle the ox (symbol for minister in the Bible)” are really “muzzling” God in their heart (1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18).
14. Those who are opposed to giving, are opposed to God, because God is the Master Giver (Jn. 3:16, et al.), nor are they a container or conduit of God’s Spirit, for “God is Love” (1 Jn. 4:16,20).
If you are a minister and agree, feel free to comment below, and why not share the article on Facebook and other social media as well? There’s a link provided below also to place a link to the article on your website or blog also.
Update: I think most people, and certainly those who know anything about me at all, understand that I am not at all talking about preachers getting wealthy off the donations of people who need the money more than the preacher does. I’m not talking here about the extreme “Prosperity Gospel” preached by self-aggrandizing charlatans. Nothing even close. Ironically, just this week Creflo Dollar initiated an obscenely ungodly campaign asking supporters to donate $65 MILLION! dollars to purchase a top of the line private jet! $65 MILLION DOLLARS! Are you feelin’ me here? Read what Dr. Michael Brown had to say about this insane, preacher-gone-mad crackpot scheme here and another article here. This is an example of the polar opposite of what I was writing about in this article! Here’s what I posted on Facebook yesterday about this incredible dollar-grab by Dollar:
Are you kidding me? SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! on Creflo “DOLLARS” Dollar (which is what he’s all about and why he’s in the ministry) for his unvarnished attempts to cajole people out of their money to make such an obscene purchase by ANY believer, and SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! on ANYONE who would be so unspiritual as to actually give their money to this charlatan! THIS INDIVIDUAL (can’t even call him a “man” because he doesn’t fit the definition of a real man!) is an absolute disgrace to the ministry and casts aspersions and disgrace upon the high calling of genuine ministry!
After being barraged on the Internet with backlash concerning his obscene fundraising tactics, Dollar’s ministry announced cancellation of the campaign. Read about it here.
Dr. Steven Lambert was ordained in 1977 and holds several earned graduate/post-graduate degrees. Over more than four decades in ministry, he has served as a pastor, radio/TV host, adjunct-professor, Board Certified Doctoral Diplomate Christian Therapist/Counselor, and a speaker/commentator on a range of social, political, and theological issues, particularly as a recognized authority on the matter of ecclesiastical authoritarian abuse. He is the founder/Overseer of Ephesians Four Network (ephesiansfour.net) and its subsidiary, Ephesians Four Network of Deliverance Counselors (efndc.ephesiansfour.net). Dr. Lambert authored several books (catalog at realtruthpublications.com), many published articles, and is the founder/editor of Spirit Life Magazine (spiritlifemag.com). His bio, extensive blog, and scheduling information are available on his ministry website at: http://www.slm.org. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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