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“Thou Shalt Not Muzzle The Ox That Treadeth Out The Corn” 1 Tim. 5:18 (KJV)
The prohibition against muzzling oxen while they are pulling a threshing implement over grain is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:4. And it was intended to make the point that oxen need sustenance to perform such work, therefore they should be allowed to feed upon that which they labor to produce.
In the New Testament this same principle was used by the Apostle Paul to teach that a minister of the Gospel has the right to expect compensation from those who benefit from his ministry either directly or indirectly. And throughout the Church Age preachers/evangelists/missionaries have been supported by the offerings of God’s people. But in these last days something is taking place that is downright scandalous and should never be tolerated by those who name the Name of Jesus Christ.
This past week a godly missionary sat at my kitchen table and
broke down in tears because of the way he is being treated concerning financial
support. After many years of laboring in what is beyond doubt the most difficult
field of service for a missionary (taking the Gospel to the Jews), he is
heartbroken because churches are dropping their support. And for those churches
that bother to contact him and give a reason (many do not and just quit giving
without any explanation—something that is downright reprehensible) the prevalent
excuse is that he “is not producing enough converts.” Folks, that makes
my blood boil! Apparently they are either unfamiliar with the fact or
simply forgotten that God has temporarily blinded
All of us need to understand that God calls His ministers
to a life of faithful service—not tangible results. William Carey, the first
Englishman of modern times to serve as a missionary, labored in
“For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” Isaiah 55:10-11 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
So if churches or individuals agree to support a missionary—ostensibly because the Holy Spirit prompts them to do so—it is in reality a contract that, once entered, should only be broken because of dire circumstances such as: (1) Blatant sin or doctrinal defection on the part of the missionary, or (2) a financial inability of the sponsoring church to continue support. When arbitrary decisions are made to discontinue support so that “more bang for the buck” can be realized with another “successful” missionary, great harm is often done to godly men and their families who are struggling to overcome obstacles and remain faithful to their calling. And this is the case with my friend and his wife. Both have serious physical problems and staggering medical bills (with no health insurance—a most unpleasant reality most missionaries have to live with), not to mention the day-to-day expenses such as gasoline and maintenance costs associated with intenerate ministries. But in spite of all the heartbreaking difficulties, they remain faithful by proclaiming the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike.
Would you like to have your pay cut with no prior notification or spiritually justifiable reason given? I think not! More than likely you would be deeply hurt and offended—just like many missionaries around the world today. “My brethren, these things “ought not so to be” (James 3:10, KJV).
I have said it before and I will, Lord willing, continue to stress the point that “results” are not an accurate barometer of a ministry. On the Day of Pentecost one would have been justified in believing the overwhelming majority—if not 100%—of the 3000 professions of faith were the result of the Holy Spirit and therefore genuine. But prudence should allow for Satan sowing a tare or two among them! And as the Church Age has progressed, false professions of faith have increased—to the point that the apostasy now taking place would indicate most are not genuine. Remember that the Lord asked the rhetorical question, “…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8b (KJV). So just because someone fills pews with bodies does not mean all of them are true converts to Jesus Christ.
And when we get to heaven and stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, I strongly suspect we will see many ministers of the Gospel—who were deemed by their peers as having been unsuccessful—receive greater reward than many perceived to have excelled. Because just as the totality of the “widow’s mite” of Mark 12:41-44 defined her reward, the following principle will apply:
“But he who did not know and did things worthy of a beating shall be beaten with few [lashes]. For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more” Luke 12:48 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
The poorly educated and inarticulate servant of God who puts his heart and soul into proclaiming the truth of the Gospel can expect to reap a full reward, even though his flock may be few in number. Whereas, the greatly gifted seminary-trained Bible scholar with a Th.D. who gives less than his best, or uses wrong methods, in achieving “great results” will undoubtedly suffer loss. So all of us need to understand that God’s standard of measurement for His servants is totally different than that applied by fallible men.
The first article I wrote for From A Pastor’s Heart was “The Best Kept Secret In The World” (www.cuttingedge.org/articles/p112.htm) and it deals with the subject of Christian stewardship. In that article I tried to stress the principle that God bestows His blessings in proportion to how faithful we are in our giving to Him:
“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you” Luke 6:38 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
But at the same time I also tried to negate the fallacious and all too prevalent belief today that if we give, God will make us rich! That, my friends, is just not scriptural. Unscrupulous preachers are deceiving millions by using Old Testament promises that are lifted out of context. While they were still under the bondage of the Law, God told the Jews that He would bless them materially if they were obedient. But such promises are not reiterated in the New Testament. In actual point of fact we are promised trials, tribulation, and persecution for faithful service—not material wealth! So if you have fallen prey to that teaching and are upset because you are not getting back as much as you were promised, go to the preacher and ask him why that is the case. And I’ll almost guarantee you he will blame it on your personal lack of faith. But the O.T. promises were based upon obedience, not faith!
So may I suggest something to you that will, without fail, result in tremendous blessings from the hand of God? If you will give liberally from the heart to the cause of Christ with no thought of being repaid (bearing in mind that God knows your motive for giving), I can testify to the fact that He will bless you richly. But understand that the blessings will not necessarily be monetary in nature. Having our needs met is a great blessing even though many of our wants may remain unfulfilled. Being healthy and happy despite the presence of trying circumstances is another. A good night’s sleep, obedient children, a steady job, a roof over our heads and having enough to eat are blessings that most people in the world yearn for on a daily basis. Yes, tremendous blessings “come in all shapes and sizes.” Just be properly thankful for them and God may see fit that they continue.
How do we truly give to the Lord’s work? Enriching preachers and paying off mortgages on excessively plush church buildings/furnishings is not necessarily the way to do it! And money spent on social/environmental programs trying to “make the world a better place” is definitely a waste. Because this world is headed for hell on a greased slide and no amount of “do-gooder” activism is going to stop it. All such thinking is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the reason people cannot, or will not, see it is part of the “mystery of iniquity that doth already work” (1 Thess. 2:7, KJV).
The first thing all of us should do is get our heads straight about what truly constitutes a worship service. The notion that we assemble together in order to receive a blessing from the preaching and teaching of God’s Word is “getting the cart before the horse.” First and foremost, God desires that we acknowledge His intrinsic worth by sacrificially giving of ourselves—our time, talent, and treasury—to His work on earth. And receiving a blessing from attending church is of relatively little importance by comparison. Taking the Gospel message to the world and making disciples is the commission given to the Church, not placing the emphasis upon ourselves by constantly seeking to receive.
“In everything I have pointed out to you [by example] that, by working diligently in this manner, we ought to assist the weak, being mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, It is more blessed (makes one happier and more to be envied) to give than to receive” Acts 20:35 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Therefore, I strongly recommend to each individual Christian that they “lay by him in store as God hath prospered him” (1 Cor. 16:2, KJV) to give through their local churches on a regular basis. And if you cannot trust the leadership of your church to use the money in a responsible and godly manner, then you need to look for another church to attend! Tithing as such is not required of New Testament Christians, and we should love the Lord so much that we will not limit ourselves to giving just 10% of our income. Note that the verse previously quoted says “…as God hath prospered him.” In other words, the New Testament principle is to give in proportion to what God has provided. And I have learned over the years that the more my wife and I try to give, the more we are able to give. So in addition to giving at least 10% of our gross income (before taxes—because the amount taxed is itself a part of that which the Lord allowed us to earn) through the church, we currently send monthly support checks to three separate missionaries. And we have never missed a meal or been in a serious financial bind during the forty years we have been growing in this practice—including the eight years of putting our two daughters through college by faith—trusting God to make the funds available each month. So to God be the glory; great things He hath done!
Therefore, I urge you to avoid cheating yourself out of such great blessings by giving liberally from the heart and trusting God for the outcome.
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
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P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466
You can also E-Mail Pastor Ronald Riffe regarding questions or comments about this article.
God bless you