“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like [people] sent from God.”
~2 Corinthians 2:17 (NIV [adapted for gender inclusivity]).
In every age of humanity we’ve had those glassy-eyed ones who’ve seen the opportunity to capture hearts to augment their own ends, without concern for the ailing. And those ‘after’ the gospel of God are generally those ailing—in truth we’re all ailing—but many are the ones who recognise it and search for God in truth, albeit vulnerably. The charlatan waits... still... yes, in this day and age (although I have no one in particular in mind as I type these words, and ‘names’ are not the point in any event).
A quick clarification is both sought and now required.
A Clarifying Excursus
“Peddling the word of God for profit,” doesn’t suggest for a moment that anyone who makes a dollar from their ministry—i.e. to live by subsistence—is in Paul’s sights. This indeed was Paul. We need to make sure we love our ministers by supporting them so far as their basic needs are concerned—that is not in question.
It’s referring more to those scaling the wall of love and doing ministry for the express purpose of making a dollar, and certainly without the love of deep concern for those who are ministered to. These are the ones who hurt the Church via those now despising the Church because they trusted the Church and were bitten hard. The ones who came to church to be loved actually became hurt because of their experience.
The True Minister
This person is doing their acts of service for God, in the midst of God, knowing inherently that God is there not only giving confidence and provision to the service, but also keeping them to close account, both in guiding them now and in Judgment later. Indeed, the minister him or herself is acutely aware of this.
No wonder this minister ministers in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)—not that they fear God scarily... they will just know that they’ll be called to account for the acts of their lives with more scrutiny than most, that’s all.
They’re comfortable with this, however, for God has indeed blessed them with the wisdom, discernment and the capacity to bless people in God’s name. And, in this, they too are mightily blessed.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.