Some men are consistent with the word. They stay on the word even when the going gets tough. These are men like Paul who said
“Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone, nor led anyone astray, nor taken advantage of anyone.” 2 Corinthians 7:2 NLT
Paul could boast this way because he was deliberate about this, he was deliberate not to lead people astray unlike many preachers of his time. Paul had every tool to make merchandise of the gospel, he had the power to take advantage of people, he had massive acceptance among people and he would have used it against people if he wanted but no, his loyalty was to God. Somewhere else he wrote
“Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10 NLT
We see yet again, how Paul chose to sacrifice his comfort just to ensure that his personal needs do not come in the way of the gospel. He chose not to be a burden to them so that he can be devout, honest and faultless towards them. Sometimes, our messages become of no effect to the hearers because they have built up offences in their hearts against us, they have found faults in certain things.
We shouldn’t concern ourselves with if they are right to do so or not, we should concern ourselves with how we should ensure that we make believers find us faultless so that they can receive of our ministry. Paul knew that becoming a burden to these people may not pay off, he decided to toil day and night, yet be a father to them. Now, look at the result of Paul’s strategy
“Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT
Do you see that? These people received Paul’s message, not just as words of a prophet or words of an inspired man but as God’s very words! They accepted it as the ‘very’ word of God and was ready to die for it! These people were trained in ministry by Paul, Paul gave up his comfort to nurture them and he also saw how the word had continued to work in them! It gets even more interesting in the next verse
“And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14 NLT
These used to be unbelievers before Paul converted them and trained them for ministry. Paul’s model of training didn’t only make them receive Paul’s words as God’s words, they also began to walk in the steps of Paul. They were ready to die for that gospel they received! This process could have been faltered if any room was given to offence.
Let me tell you a story I witnessed myself
Some years back, I used to know a young man who was very committed in a church denomination. He was won over after the gospel was preached to him. He was also consistent in inviting his neighbours to Church. He was serious in tithing, giving his first fruits, paying his partnerships.
One day, he ran out of money and was denied access to the exam hall because he hadn’t paid certain dues in the school. This young man went to one of the Church leaders to request for assistance but he was turned down on the grounds that there was no money. It didn’t deter him, he continued, he remained committed.
Another time, his landlord came to throw his things out because he couldn’t pay house rent, he ran to the Church for help, asking that they borrow him just half of the money so that he can secure his apartment. The same story, they turned him down on the grounds that there is no money in Church. It didn’t deter him, he continued.
Towards the Pastor’s birthday, the Church started raising money, every department was mandated to raise a certain amount of money, the leaders of these departments also embarked on a massive pressure towards their members so that they can meet up with targets. The fundraising was meant to be used in changing the Pastor’s wardrobe, buying him a new car and handing him a fat envelope.
When the departmental leader of this young man approached him, he told his leader “I truly do not have any money. The last cash I have in my account is meant for a textbook that we have been asked to purchase or else we won’t be able to submit our assignments. I am meant to buy the textbook today.”
“You are such a faithless believer,” his leader told him “why can’t you give that money to honour your Pastor? Don’t you know what sacrifice is?”
That was the end of the discussion for this young man. After that day, he left the Church and was scared to join any other Church. He felt cheated, felt deceived and he wondered why he was allowed to be thrown out of his apartment when people could just donate money for him, he wondered why he was allowed to carry over when there could have been a way to help him. He felt used!
I knew him as a committed member of this Church. It was after many months that I approached him to ask him why he doesn’t go to church again and he opened up to me. While I tried making him see from another perspective, I did my best not to also judge him.
The above scenario is exactly what Paul wanted to avoid, he didn’t want to offend anyone with his burden, he was only committed to ensure that they are well-grounded in the word and ministry and it paid off well.
So many preachers started well on this note, they were loyal to God’s word, they were ready to die on this and they were ready to forego any doctrine that is at odds with what Jesus has done. For them, it was just all about Jesus!
But it didn’t take long, they saw money, they saw how much they could make using their influence, they saw how a little adjustment here and there could fetch them more money, they saw that if they must live large lives like those popular preachers they admire on TV or social media, they must add a little water to their message.
They called the addition of this water balance. Balance is the word many people use to justify the mix. You bring the law, you bring grace and you mix them, make a shakes out of it and serve it to the audience. Gradually, the mix couldn’t even do anymore and they entered the proper business of lying and making merchandise of the gospel through subtle selling of prophecies.
Yet, these were men who started on sound doctrine, men who started because they wanted to see people live their lives for God but eventually got corrupted. The saying that a man’s true character is exposed when a little power, money and fame is given to him is so true!
Sometimes, the damage this does to one’s ministry is gradual and slow. Many times, we count success as money and numbers and as a result, we end up not knowing that we have failed in ministry, that we failed God. Next time you want to count money and fame as success in ministry, also remember that some Satanists have more money and more followers than some genuine powerful preachers.
I just hope and pray that like Saint Paul, we can look beyond our comfort, pockets and goodies that come with honour, and invest all of them in the lives of people so that we can also be faultless in their sights and so that we can see God’s word which we speak to them flourish on every side!
I call you blessed.