Ministers: Rejecting Riches Part 1

In this article, I outline some verses about a minister’s rejection of riches and explain them and apply them to a godly minister’s makeup. A requirement for God’s ministers is that they are not motivated by greed. We examine this in this blog. I am sorry that I am going to go on a long rabbit trail here, but we cannot understand what an “optimum minister” should be unless we understand what a minimum of a good Christian’s worldview should be as to riches. So I will lay the foundation of a biblical viewpoint towards possessions and riches here. Perhaps you would need to go beyond these basic foundational principles to something more advanced, but that is outside the scope of this article.

Preliminaries: Worldview of a Christian

Overview

We have to start with a general overview of things which leads us to form a Christian worldview.

Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Heb 11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. Heb 11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. Heb 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11 presents a parade of godly characters that paid the ultimate price in some cases (death, martyrdom) in following God. The principle point of this chapter is for us to note that the things of this world are transitory, they are not eternal, and a true Christian is a person who has so exercised faith in the statements and promises of God that he is convinced it is better to “lose” earthly rewards in order to gain heavenly entrance and citizenship. This is a mindset. It is always going to happen with a good, godly Christian. Maybe there are backslidden Christians who are struggling with this, but they are struggling. People who call themselves Christians and only live for that which is in this world are just probably not even saved.

Heb 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. Heb 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Heb 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Heb 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Heb 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

The point of Moises coming up here is that he was a prince, a king’s personal adopted son, and therefore a part heir of all the riches of Egypt. Having that great benefit in life, he gave it up because he was convinced of the heavenly truth God had revealed to him, and believed it more valuable than all the riches the world has to offer.

View of Eternal is Essential to Being Saved

Matt 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

So the gaining of possessions in this world is counter-productive to eternal life. This is true when you make “the good life” here on earth your life’s goal. If you can keep things in perspective, then there is nothing wrong with owning things. But how you view these earthly “things” (riches, possessions, etc.) is very important. A worldview that is Christian, godly, and biblical is very important.

Matt 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Matt 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Matt 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Matt 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matt 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Matt 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

Jesus is not saying that to enter heaven you cannot have possessions. What he is saying is that whatever possessions you have, you have to dominate them such that they do not direct your life, being really an idol. What this means is that we “use” possessions and money, but we do not idolize them. This is what a rich person does, he places it as an absolute idol in his life. What gets him possessions, riches, pleasure, etc. is good, and anything that takes away from that is bad. This view has a negation of the eternal in it. It never evaluates those possessions (losses or gains) with a view to eternity. It never accepts that we are to use earthly possessions to gain heavenly rewards. This is because this mindset is totally anti-heavenly. It is totally earthly.

The Pull of the Earthly is Deadly

Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Again, it is not a sin to have possessions, money, or riches, but it is a sin (a sin so grave as to possibly negate Jesus as your Savior) if these things rule your life. Tithes and offerings come to play here as a weekly voluntary surrender of earthly possessions in obedience to God, and as a weekly show of the fact that these things are not our idols. We “cheerfully” of our own free will give to God to show our rejection of riches as our lord and god of our life.

Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Some would contend that this is Christian communism in the early church, but let’s get this straight. Communism is a system whereby a government takes from the rich to distribute among the poor (unilaterally supposedly), but in actuality, it is a system whereby in the name of that, the rich take from everybody unilaterally, destroys commerce and initiative, and basically skims the cream off the top for their own pockets.

What happened in the early church is that God got ahold of them, and they were very close to Jesus. In this condition, they saw heaven closer than that their earthly problems, and when others in the midst had earthly need, they

gave what they could not keep in order to get what they could not lose.

Salvation includes working for the Eternal over the Earthly

This is the truth of the Bible. We only need to believe in what God has said, and we too can enter into this closer fellowship with God.

1Tim 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1Tim 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 1Tim 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1Tim 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 1Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1Tim 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

The simple truth of this is that loving money (not necessarily having it, and many poor people have this problem just as bad as a rich person), that they make money the idol of their life, and they bow before it constantly. People who choose to work on Sunday to make extra money, who cannot give to God’s work because their own needs are more important than anybody else’s needs or any other thing. They don’t have charity towards the needy, towards their brethren in Christ, nor do they care about the work of the Lord.

We must insist that this is not a works based salvation, but rather, true salvation working itself out will result in a change of your life’s focus, from the earthly to the spiritual, eternal.

Prov 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

This verse simple “breaks” most people’s mindsets. That is exactly what they are laboring for, to be rich. If that is why we work, we are wrong, and wise in ourselves, but not really all that wise.

Prov 28:20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

This life view extends not only to having and holding riches, but also in how you gather or obtain them. There are legitimate ways and there are illegitimate ways.