BEWARE OF DISHONEST AND GREEDY MINISTERS!

WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL

MAY 21, 2024

TOPICBEWARE OF DISHONEST AND GREEDY MINISTERS!

BY T. O. BANSO

“Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?” (2 Kings 5: 26b New King James Version).

If a preacher or minister says there are no dishonest and greedy ministers because he wants to protect or defend his constituency, there could be victims of the activities of such erring ministers who would step forward and testify that there are. Therefore, it serves no purpose to deny their existence.

It is not anything new that we have some ministers today who are not following the example of Christ and the early apostles. In the days of the apostles, they existed and the church was even warned about false teachers that would come as Jesus had said in Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (New King James Version).

Warning the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29-31 New King James Version).

Paul also said in Philippians 3:17-19:  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (New King James Version).

The point I am trying to establish is that the early church talked about the existence of the bad eggs among them or warned about their future activities. In 2 Corinthians 11:26, Paul spoke about being in danger of the false brothers or Christians as part of suffering in the ministry. Also, Peter warned, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” (2 Peter 2:1-3 New King  James Version). Note the phrase “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words.” Some Bible translations render the word “covetousness” as greed.

Against this backdrop, it is proper to warn believers and others against the dishonest and greedy ministers who try to give the other ministers of God a bad name and work against the Kingdom of God. In the time of Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees devoured or confiscated widows’ houses; they robbed them of their houses or shamelessly cheated them out of their property (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).

Some ministers do a similar thing today, robbing people of their money and property through deceitful practices, including false teachings and fake prophecies. They are only interested in the gold of the people, not their souls! Their god is their belly or stomach (Philippians 3:19). Those patronizing them indirectly encourage them. They neglect genuine servants of God whom they should be supporting, giving them financial support, prayer support, etc. 1 John 4:1 says not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Paul said false apostles were deceitful workers who disguised themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13). Some people are deceived by eloquence and boldness, taking them for the anointing! The victims of dishonest and greedy ministers are attracted by all kinds of prophecies rather than the sound teaching of the Word of God by the true ministers of God.

Paul founded the Corinthian church and ‘robbed’ other churches by accepting their contributions or taking wages from them to minister to or serve the Corinthian church at no cost (2 Corinthians 11:8). Nevertheless, the Corinthians despised him because of some “super apostles” who came to minister to them. Paul wrote to them, “But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these ‘super apostles’ who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way” (2 Corinthians 11:5-6 New Living Translation). In 2 Corinthians 12:11b, he stressed, “I am not at all inferior to these ‘super apostles,’ even though I am nothing at all” (New Living Translation). When people behave like the Corinthians, they easily fall prey to dishonest and greedy ministers.

Beware of these ministers who exploit people’s love to give to God and His causes. Gehazi’s name immediately comes to mind. Naaman did not come to the land of Israel empty-handed; he came with ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing (2 Kings 5:5). He presented a gift to the Prophet Elisha, whom God had used to heal him of his leprosy, but Elisha rejected it (verse 16). This could be because it was not time to receive such a gift, as Elisha told Gehazi later: Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?” (Verse 26b New King James Version).

After Elisha had rejected the gift, the next verse tells us that Naaman made a personal commitment to serve the LORD. This was more important to Elisha than any gift from him. Jesus told His disciples, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 New King James Version).

However, Gehazi missed the point. He would not spare Naaman! Gehazi said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him” (2 Kings 5:20 New King James Version). Dishonest and greedy ministers don’t spare the congregation or those who come their way. If they pray, people must pay or people must pay before they pray!

Did you notice that Gehazi swore by the LORD to pursue and collect something from Naaman? “But as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him” (2 Kings 5:20b New King James Version). Compare that with what Elisha said to Naaman earlier: As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing” (2 Kings 5:16a New King  James Version). Elisha swore not to receive anything from Naaman while Gehazi swore to take something from him.

Gehazi would not allow Naaman to go without collecting something from him. Therefore, he went after him, thinking Elisha would not know. He lied to Naaman to collect the gift his master had rejected (2 Kings 5:21-23).

When he returned from ‘robbing’ Naaman, he also lied to his master that he did not go anywhere. “Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?  Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’ And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow” (verses 26-27 New King James Version).

In 1 Samuel 12:3-4, Samuel asked the Israelites, among other things, if he had cheated or oppressed anyone, and they said no. Paul said something similar: “We have cheated no one” (2 Corinthians 7:2 New King James Version). Not every minister can say boldly what Samuel and Paul said because not every minister of God obeys the Word of God not to be greedy for money (1 Timothy 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7).

Indeed, the Bible tells believers to give or sow seeds generously (2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Luke 6:38). Nevertheless, they should be led by the Holy Spirit on who and where to sow their seeds to receive the right harvests. They should not let anyone manipulate them and rob them of their money or property. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7b). Every child of God must allow the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to guide him in giving or sowing seeds.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and cannot save yourself, and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You must join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

PRAYER POINTS: I shall not be a victim of dishonest and greedy ministers in Jesus’ name. I shall not, by my giving, encourage dishonest and greedy ministers in their activities thereby giving the ministers of God and the church a bad name.

(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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