Sunday, January 1, 2012

Discerning the Ministry Motive

“For such boasters are false prophets, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.”

~2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NRSV)

There is surely one central test of any minister of Christ—the want implicit of motive toward self-gain will mark the minister as not just a sinner, as all ministers are (because they are imperfect people), but a thief of the worst kind: one who would gain the trust of impressionable ones and lead them as if lambs to the slaughter at the shepherd-ship of a ravenously cunning wolf, hungry for success.

Such false prophets are about in every age, to every walk of life, as opportunists.

They are just as big an issue today as they were in the Apostle Paul’s day regarding ministerial deceit in Corinth. And the humbling thing is every minister will relate regarding the battle over motive. This is enough to cause each of us to repent in fear and trembling in the Presence of God. Finding the presence of this sin is divine awakening; that which we should be thankful for.

Portrait Of The (Situational or Career) False Minister

A predominant sign of this age is the prevalence of what I call the market-motive. It appears so many so-called servants of God have voraciously cloned themselves on well-known Christian leadership personalities and their practices. The market-motive has cornered their thoughts, their focus, and has blurred their rationale. They want success more than they want God.

Instead of being Spirit-centred and Spirit-surrendered vessels, usable by the living God, they have sold out to the gospel of success, which equates to power-in-numbers, as much Christian community influence as possible, and the esteem of human beings and not God.

And if we’re being honest, every living minister will relate that part of their ministry motive has been falsely wrought; they have been wise to repent when the Spirit has revealed the worldly market-motive as a situational driver to the expense of love and the message of salvation, where Jesus has been crucified afresh. To be convicted is blessing.

The Urgent Need to Repent

Jesus makes it clear in John’s gospel (see 12:31; 16:11) that a swift end is coming to the “ruler [or ‘prince’] of this world,” and Paul extends that here to the false prophet, for judgment will condemn them in the end, even to the point where they may be foreseeably pitied.

The Lord’s judgment of those agents of Satan is particularly severe and the genuine believer will be given even to compassion, despite the severity of the false prophet’s apparent sin. Yet again, when we’re honest in the Presence of God we will identify, at least partly, with the false minister’s motive. We battle with the flesh in our preferred Spiritual world.


Whilst discussing such subjects as this invites suspicion over many a good minister, for the majority are pure enough of motive not to be suspected, suspicion is still a worthy caveat before an otherwise vulnerable faith. And faith does need to be vulnerable.

The keyword for us out of the passage profiled is deceit—the motive of.

Any such motive, without comprehensive repentance on the part of the minister, should qualify them for immediate dismissal from a humbly noble service which can never be a denigrated to the worldly practice of trade.

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Postscript: for more on this subject, please feel welcome to read, False Prophecy and True.

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