This is a red flag when people preach the gospel with the wrong motives, particularly for gaining money. Scriptures teach that the love of money is the root of all evil. I am not speaking here about ministers who may request financial aid or other aid for legitimate reasons, particularly when it can be shown that this offering or gift results in blessings to the givers. This is scriptural (e.g. Elijah, Paul in 1 Cor 9). In fact, scriptures teach that those who labor in the gospel are working and they should be provided for.
However, false apostles seem to peddle the gospel and/or their gifts for financial gain in much the same way that the world does business. Paul spoke of his example to the Corinthian believers. He reminded them that he had not burdened them with requests for aid even when he was in need. The brethren from Macedonia had assisted him (2 Cor 11: 7-9).
After carefully reading this chapter, it seems that Paul reproved the brethren for allowing false apostles to take advantage of them. This is seen in two ways:
After speaking in verses 7-12 about his restraint in relation to asking for financial aid, he then said, “for such are false apostles“. Paul was a skillful writer and this seems to me to be an inference about the abuse the brethren had suffered at their hands.
He also reproved the brethren outrightly when he told the brethren that they seemed to think that he was a fool because he did not preach the gospel with the same pomp and boasting as the false apostles. However, they accepted the wisdom of the false apostles and he sarcastically said that they suffered fools gladly since they thought that they were wise.
Paul used acidic words when he described the Corinthians’ folly in believing the false teachings and allowing these greedy teachers to extort money from them: “For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face” (2 Cor 11: 20).
False apostles are motivated by how much they can gain financially by preaching their gospel. Here are some examples:
In Titus 1: 9-16, Paul spoke about the false teachers of the doctrine of salvation by circumcision who, “who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Their doctrine was appealing and consisted of Jewish fables and the doctrines of men.
Balaam was motivated by his love of money and used his gift of divination to curse the Jews (Num 22. Scriptures teach that he loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Pet 2: 15; Jude 1: 11) We know that he was certainly a false prophet because God he later taught them to commit fornication with the Moabites and this caused God to become displeased and judge them (Rev 2: 14). His works were destroyed and his outcome documented in Deut 23: 5; Josh 13: 22; Josh 24: 9,10; Neh 13: 2).
Judas loved money so much that he betrayed Jesus to get it. His end was his demise by his own hands.
KEEPING THE BALANCE
Since those who preach the gospel must live by it, churches and para-church organizations should make provisions for the needs of those who work in their organizations. This is scriptural and is the example set by God in the provision for the priests who ministered in the temple.
Those who receive the ministry of the servants of God should, I believe, bless them for their works’ sake. In the days of Samuel the prophet, the people of Israel followed the Biblical principle set by God in the provision for the priests by taking a gift whenever they went to seek divine help from a prophet.
Will the modern day servant of the Lord refuse to help someone because there is no payment upfront? When Jesus sent out his 12 apostles to preach the gospel, he told them to freely bless the people with the gifts since they had freely received them (Mt 10: 8).
Jesus taught about the “prophet’s reward” that is given to those who receive a prophet in the name of the prophet (Mt 10: 41). Any minister of the gospel who freely preaches the gospel will receive his/her reward from the Lord. Jesus also spoke in Lk 16: 11 about the “true riches” that is given to those who are faithful.
There is a principle in 1 Cor 3 that shows that people can receive earthly rewards for their labor and none in heaven. If the minister of the gospel strives in the ministry for the sake of wealth and fame, then there will be no heavenly reward. In fact, these works will be destroyed in the time of trouble and nothing will remain.
There is a very thin line between preaching for money and freely giving the blessing that comes with the gift. For example, some ministers of the gospel operate the gift of God like a business. They offer, for example, a “free prophecy”, then add you to their mailing list. Later you then receive prophetic words (are some of them mass produced?). In order to receive the full prophecy, you then have to pay a sum into their ministry. I do not want to judge, for each person has to operate by their conscience. However, what will happen to the person who really needs the instruction and lacks the payment?
I hope that you have been blessed. Remember to seek “true riches”.