THE MYSTERY OF STEWARDSHIP
BY: LARRY HODGES
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God”
– I Corinthians 4:1
The extent to which man has fallen never seems more obvious than when he is called upon to do what he is not capable of doing without divine enablement. For instance, to trust God with and for his entire security – his very life. When one observes Jesus’ life as it is revealed to us through the gospels, one sees the epitome of complete trust in a Father who is worthy of complete trust; one sees a sea of glass unruffled by even the slightest breeze of concern. He held to nothing and so nothing was able to hold to Him.
The subject of stewardship is one of the most important areas in which God means to bring forth fruitfulness in us. I realize that I have switched the words around a little in the title, but I meant to. In some ways I think we have entirely misunderstood stewardship and have therefore missed the intended point altogether. In order for us to really and truly correctly understand stewardship, we must have the divine revelation concerning a verse of scripture with which we are all quite familiar but few really believe. “It is more blessed (happy) to give than to receive.“ –Acts 20:35
Without spiritual illumination from the Holy Spirit on this scripture, it is not possible for man, even redeemed man, to believe that it actually means what it says. In fact, it’s that way with all the scriptures, which pertain to riches, money, mammon and the things of this present material world from which we think we derive our security but from which we actually must be weaned if we are to enter into that realm to which we are called – that of sons.
It must be admitted that much said herein is not for general consumption but for those only who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church, and the rest will hear them according to the order in which they are called. One of the reasons most have not reaped the blessings stored up in, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, is because there has not been a correct distinction made between what Christ Jesus calls “the deceitful riches” and “the true riches.” That is, the balances in which these two categories are weighed out have not been just balances. The balances of most have caused the deceitful riches to weigh more with them than the true riches of Christ.
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
“Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
“Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD. – Lev 19:35-37 (KJV)
The nation of Israel never really kept the spirit of this statute, but we, who have the law written upon the tablet of the heart, can truly keep it, but only as we walk in the Spirit. When we don’t walk in the Spirit we walk in carnality, and when this is the case with men, it can only be expected that their stewardship will prove to be unfaithful.
We are told by the Lord very clearly that the riches of this world are deceitful (Matthew 13:22) and that the desire for them will drown men in perdition. This word, perdition, comes to us from the Greek word, apollumi, and carries much the same meaning as destruction, not of their person but of their well-being, as in the shattering of one’s peace and joy.
We are told in no uncertain terms to “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth...” – Matthew 6:19, and yet, even though the Lord Himself utters the word, some today have based their entire ministry on instructing men in how to defy it. They do this not because they do not love the Lord. I really believe they do – up to a point. I believe they are able to do such violence to the Word of God and are able to instruct others to do so without any interference from their conscience, simply because they live and move in a realm to which these scriptures and their true import have a very superficial or even non-existent application.
How can “Lay not up for yourselves on earth”, come to mean “Lay up for yourselves on earth?” And if, as some seem to think, the riches of this present world are the true riches, then what are those riches of the kingdom of God? How can men read, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”, and then teach that you can serve both? If our heart is found wherever our treasure is, how then can our life be hid with Christ in God while our treasures are in our wallet, our check book or the bank? Is God presenting His mind in such a confused manner, or is He meant to be taken no more seriously than we perceive Him in such a loose interpretation of these verses?
We are actually chided by the Lord for being concerned about what we are going to eat, what we are going to drink and wherewithal we shall be clothed, as being those things that the uncircumcised nations seek after, as being, in other words, those things which folks who have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit seek after. These things are commonly regarded as essentials, and yet we are told to take no thought regarding them. We are told instead to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and then all these things would be added unto us. This verse is usually taken to mean something to the very general effect that if we merely put God first in our lives, then we are free to also add whatever we can through our own industry and intelligence. As if Christ Jesus were a kind of heading under which we are to carry on our endeavors in much the same way the crusaders of the dark ages slaughtered and killed their fellow man under the banner of Christ. The point is altogether missed.
So we set about with our this or that “big name financial advisor” tapes which encourage us to make a fair showing in the flesh, to gather to ourselves what God said He would add to us if we but sought first the kingdom of God as it ought to be sought, and to lay up for ourselves what God very clearly says we ought not lay up for ourselves. As if, as some actually teach, our bank account is the true and undeniable measure of our spirituality, of our relationship with God and of our blessing from Him.
There is no one on his way toward perfection in Christ who will not at some time, in one way or another, be confronted with the same choices with which Jesus Himself was confronted at the outset of His ministry.
“And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.“ –Luke 4:5-7
A great and insightful mind is not required in order to understand the blatant and shameless offer Satan here makes to the Lord in His person and now makes to the Lord in His members – in us. That is, if we will give worth and value (this is the basis for the word, “worship” or worth-ship) to the kingdoms of this world and the basis upon which they all rest (mammon), then he will freely give them to us, for they are his to bestow upon whomsoever he wishes. Has it never struck you as odd that so much of the world’s wealth is in the hands of the ungodly? If God thought much of it, would He not have given more of it to His beloved Son in whom He is so well pleased?
Is this not the day of the unveiling of the mystery of iniquity in which the man of sin is revealed, in which men receive millions for starring in a movie, for being able to put a round ball through a round hoop, for being able to out-fox and take advantage of his fellow man in business? In this day, as in no other, we see millionaires by the millions, both naturally and spiritually.
God’s entire economy, both natural and spiritual, rests upon the observance of His spiritual principles. And, do not be deceived, natural and spiritual riches are not altogether separate and isolated from each other. They are as much twins as were Esau and Jacob. They actually need each other and depend upon each other for their individual realization. Jacob would never have come to be Israel without Esau’s opposition against which he must exercise himself. If we are wise we may learn as much from negative examples as from positive ones.
When God’s people entered into their inheritance and had begun in earnest to remove the inhabitants of the land, then their inheritance was divided to them by lot. Each tribe received its portion according to divine ordination; not according to seniority, or first-come-first-served, or the best to the strongest or wisest. It is well for us to remember that it was the Lord who gave to every man that portion which was allotted to him. Some received the well-watered northern lands just down the slopes from Mount Herman. Others could ply their industry in fishing because they had received their portion along the seashore. Still others received yet other advantages distinct and different from the rest in their portion, but they all received an inheritance in that land which flowed with milk and honey, none of which was second-rate.
All, that is, except Levi. Levi did not receive a portion of the land as his inheritance, and we should call to mind that these things were all written for our benefit and all serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.
But because Levi did not inherit along with his brethren, we ought not to feel sorry for him, because he received the best and greatest inheritance of all–God Himself! Levi had no more choice in the matter than he exercised in being birthed into the Levitical priesthood. The priesthood was not (to this day is not) something a man chooses for himself. Apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers are not appointed to their office by friends and acquaintances; they are gifts to the Church and come only from God. They don’t come from the Bible School or Seminary. They don’t come from a husband to a wife in order to keep peace in the family or visa-versa. They come only from the Lord.
“But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.“ – Josh 18:7
“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service, which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation (How else were they to eat?). Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.“ –Num 18:20-24
“Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the winepress. And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.“ – Numbers 18:29-31
Because Levi had no part nor inheritance with the children of Israel, he must depend entirely upon the offerings of the Lord for his maintenance. He was not allowed a part-time job. He was not allowed beggar status. He was not allowed to invent his own alternative way to support himself. He must rely entirely upon the Lord for his sustenance. It is that way today among those who are the antitype of the Levitical priesthood.
If we do not understand God’s ways, His purposes and His principles upon which He bases the blessing of His people, we shall not progress in the things of God, and it was the Levitical priesthood, which was to teach and to instruct the children of Israel in these things. You will find that God never sent a prophet to speak to His people until the teaching priesthood had fallen down on its job.
It is quite possible to continue to be blessed in material things while becoming poverty-stricken as to spiritual things. No true ministry (that has been called and sent of God) chose that ministry for himself any more than any saint of God chooses God, but is rather chosen of God that he should go and bring forth fruit. If one should study the service of the Levitical priesthood, one quickly sees that there is not much standing-around time and that the work involved, while quite different from that of their brethren, is nevertheless very strenuous, if that means anything.
Those whom I respect as gifts to the Church, I understand, often put in 13-16 hour days, not building a natural house for which they may expect to be handsomely rewarded financially, but working on that house not made with hands. They are involved not in baking bread to sell to others for a profit, but in freely dispensing the Bread of Life to those with an appetite for it. They are involved not in the banking industry where money is laid up on earth in store for a rainy day, but in giving out, according to their ability and as they have received the true riches of the kingdom of God.
This divine arrangement has not always been thoroughly taught or understood by God’s people. “And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.“ – Nehemiah 13:10-12
There is no doubt that God will soon unveil what can be called by no other name than sons of God, to a shocked and breathlessly waiting world and a very surprised Church. Those sons of God will be His exact representatives to the nations, just as Jesus was an exact representative of the Father to the Jewish nation. No person can accurately display the character or nature of our Father who is not walking in His agape Love, as Jesus did. Perhaps you may ask, “What has agape Love to do with the subject of good stewardship?”
“God (Love) so loved that He gave…” – John 3:16 Giving is the most prominent and most striking characteristic to be found in Christ. In fact, the very life of Christ in which we are to walk is a given life. It is not a life that is to be lived for one’s self. It is a life that is “free from the love of money and is content with such things as one has, for such a life is assured that He will in no wise fail it, neither will He in any wise forsake it.” (A paraphrase of Hebrews 13:5 R.V.)
Let me say clearly and distinctly, regardless of what any have been taught or perhaps themselves have taught, There shall be no son who has not had developed in them the giving heart of the Father. It is not possible to come to maturity in Christ without such a heart, for the giving heart is maturity and maturity is a giving heart. No giving heart ever lived in poverty!
We, as children of God, not only have the privilege to give but are to be responsible givers. That is, we are not to allow the greed of unethical men or misguided men who are sometimes found in a position of leadership within the Church system to influence our giving… in either direction! We are to give only in response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and as we feel free in our conscience to do so with joy. It is not God’s desire that His children give as unto men but as unto Himself. Otherwise we shall find our giving to be unfruitful and ourselves to be without blessing or favor in our giving.
The amount one gives is unimportant! The important thing is to begin to develop the practice of giving-with-joy! Many feel that what they have to give is so small that it will not make any difference at all. This is not the issue. How much one gives may be quite small on the natural level and may very well not matter at all in the over-all scheme of things. But it is on the spiritual level that all registers, and there it matters a very great deal, so far as you are concerned.
Consider the poor widow who cast into the treasury only two mites. Less than a penny! It was so small an amount that it probably did not even register with those collecting the monies, but it registered very greatly in heaven. Jesus said that she had cast in more than all they, which cast into the treasury, and to this day she is remembered for her faith!
As God teaches giving it is seldom about the need of the receiver to receive; more often it is about the need of the giver to give. For whatever we hold to has captured us. And the poor can do this concerning their little with as much determination as the wealthy can with their much.
It is one of the shortcomings of human nature that we do not want to offer our little. We would rather make a big splash. We want to impress others with our giving. This is also one of the reasons so many never minister the Word God has committed to their stewardship. They are ashamed to minister what they consider their little. The lad who offered his little two loaves to Jesus found that his little would feed 5,000 after Jesus had blessed it! Give your little to the Lord, and allow Him to bless it. You will find that your own barrel of meal will not waste nor lack because of the blessing of the Lord upon those who are willing to bless, and it will bless far more than you ever thought possible. It will bless no one until given as to the Lord. This has nothing to do with economies, good or bad. It has to do with the faithfulness of God.
We are told, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought saying what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the nations (natural men) seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you. Therefore take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.“ – Matthew 6:25-34
Six times here we are reminded by the Lord of the useless folly of taking thought concerning natural material things, of which God already knows we have need. We are children of the Most High God (Possessor of heaven and earth), and He will take care of His own children.
There is quickly appearing now a day in which neither the American dollar, the English pound, the French franc or the Kenyan shilling shall be the coin by which you and I buy or sell. If we are to believe what God is now revealing to us by His Spirit, we must know that there is another coin about to be stamped and another currency soon to be issued for that realm into which God calls His sons. That coin and currency is faith! It was the same currency and coin, which Jesus constantly used during His pattern ministry while in the flesh. Be it little or much, let us, as good stewards, be found faithful in the unrighteous mammon and deceitful riches so that we may have committed to us the true riches He now holds out to every true son.
We are not qualified to truly give of our finances to God without first having completely given ourselves to Him. The Apostle Paul says, concerning the grace (giving is a grace) of God which was upon the churches of Macedonia, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” While they were being greatly afflicted, they turned their deep poverty into an occasion for giving richly and laid up for themselves riches, not on earth but in heaven.
“For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing (to give) of themselves, praying (begging) us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” They begged Paul to take their gifts offered out of their deep poverty and dispense them to the saints. “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us by the will of God.” – II Corinthians 8:1-5 This grace of giving, which I am persuaded is already begun in you by the Lord, I pray God to finish in you that you may be truly clothed and adorned in the only apparel the sons shall wear, the apparel of His character and nature – the sons made comely in His comeliness.
An Excerpt From Jane Leade
“Now I have a word given me also for the lower ranks (that is, those of us who have less of worldly, material things), that indeed may have a more lawful plea for want of time and liberty, being engaged in business that must give a livelihood, and therefore they cannot be so much at leisure to await the motions of the heavens.
“To this, the Spirit of Christ gives this caution and counsel – ‘Take heed lest the cares for the bodily part do not eat out the life and spirit, and so bereave it of all that is spiritual food and clothing for the soul, and so being put aside and excluded from commencing the heavenly vocation and calling, lose all benefit of conversation in heavenly places.’
“Therefore be watchful and suffer not the outward to unseat the inward. Put but one grain of faith into thy stock of outward things and keep the eye upon God therein, and the blessing of increase shall come upon thee, for the just shall live both spiritually and temporally by His faith.
“We have instances of what the spirit of faith hath produced when God hath been confided in. It hath produced a thousand-fold more than all the study of the head and labor of the hands. And as this Lily of Faith shall get up (grow), and free itself from the twisting strings of sense which hath bound it, Solomon, in all his glory shall not be compared unto this sprouting Lily-Day of the heirs of faith.
“They who shall be born into this faith need not be thoughtful for any temporal thing, for all blessings will be brought in abundance. Therefore labor not so much for that perishing mammon, but rather for that white stone of pure faith that fed many thousands with bread. Remember the Lord’s doctrine – “Take no thought what to eat or drink or wherewith to be clothed.” The Lord knew that by the Spirit and power of faith, there should be a support and supply of all necessary things.
“But it may be said, “This kind of faith is yet but very rarely sprung up in anyone.” Well, grant it to be so for the present (1600’s), yet it is a truth there is such a faith that hath been and shall most surely be revived again in those who are willing to die to all that which hath choked and stifled and bound this Lily of Faith down.” End Quote, from Enochian Walks With God, Jane Leade, pg 10–11
I can conceive of no more encouraging word to us than this spoken of the Spirit through Jane Leade. In it we are encouraged that we may turn our everyday labor into a spiritual matter by keeping our eye upon God and by doing all as unto Him. In such a case, even that portion of our life which must be spent seeing to our livelihood is brought under the rule and power of our Father in Heaven and through such a work, all is transmuted into that gold of true riches which endures forever.
Yet, we are cautioned not to allow that which is outward and material to consume that which is inward and spiritual, but to keep our eye of faith fastened upon our Father and that if but one grain of faith is applied to the outward life, it shall earn the blessing of increase for both the spiritual and material.
“And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? – Luke 16:9-12
This verse has been a real puzzler for some for many years. It has also been wrongly taken by some as an encouragement to make mammon a close friend. That’s what our version (KJV) of the Bible says. What the Bible, that is, the original inspired Word of God says is this: “Make friends to yourselves with the mammon of unrighteousness.” That is, use the mammon of unrighteousness to make friends to yourselves. And He is not saying, “Use money to buy your friends.” But use the mammon of unrighteousness with such wisdom that when you fail (die) they may receive you into aionian habitations. This word, fail, is taken from the Greek word, ekleipo and means the cessation of life.
Now it is certain that no one can insure that his friends, no matter who they are, can receive them into any kind of habitation after they die. Those habitations, those mansions in the true house of God, are under the sole proprietorship and supervision of Jesus Christ Himself, and even though these new bodies are given to those qualifying for them, they cannot be bought with the mammon of unrighteousness. But the mammon of unrighteousness can be used in such a manner that one can be said to be laying up in store for oneself in heaven.
For He goes on to enlarge upon the statement, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” What is this, which is another man’s? It cannot be my money. The Christian has been bought with a price, and he is not his own, nor is anything his own! While the Holy Spirit rested upon them with such a weight of glory and the whole multitude of that early Church were of one heart and of one soul, “neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own;” but they had all things in common. What the believer has use of is only in his care, and he is but a steward of it – the keeper of it. All we have is God’s and we are stewards of it and must answer to Him as to how we use it. If our money and material things (mammon) are another man’s and not our own, then what is this of which He speaks, saying, “...who shall give you that which is your own?” Our inheritance! A part of that inheritance is the habitation, the new body, into which we desire to be received.
So, far from making friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, we, with correct and wise usage of the mammon of unrighteousness, make friends to ourselves, and by the righteous use of that which is another’s (God’s) we are enabled to be received into everlasting habitations (our inheritance). And it all has to do with how we have used that which is least, that is, the riches of this world – the deceitful riches. It all has to do with our stewardship. And if it is found that we have been unfaithful in that which is least, then that which is our own (our inheritance) shall be withheld from us, the Lord not deeming us responsible or faithful stewards.
I must say, believe it or not, I do not write on this most difficult of all subjects because of personal want or need, for we have none. The Lord has graciously seen to our needs from the beginning. My great and overriding concern is your need. I find that I am not excused by the Lord from writing on this subject merely because of the quality of that group receiving our writings. Those we write to know so much concerning the purposes of God in bringing a people to the place of maturity and to His likeness. There must be made known, in no uncertain terms, that His likeness cannot be had without or apart from that kind of heart that so loved that it gave His only begotten Son. We, of all people, ought to be more loving, and therefore more giving – not for the sake of the recipient (for it is not as blessed to receive as to give) or because we feel we ought to or have to, but for the sheer joy of giving as unto God and having the knowledge that it is accepted of Him and that mighty transactions are thereupon registering in the heavenlies.
It is because the stewardship of the mystery of Christ has been committed to those who have not the material means to dispense its riches, that a very large share of the responsibility for dispensing the riches of the gospel must and does rest with those under whose care and stewardship God has placed the material means to carry out the higher stewardship. With this benevolent, all-wise and divine arrangement, God has created a situation whereby the work of every man, from plumber to prophet, turns on that which is spiritual. As he who has the carnal riches enables him who has been endowed with the spiritual riches, to fulfill his duty to God and man, the blessing of the reward is thereby spread far and wide. For as all share equally in the work, all share equally in the reward.
The crisis comes for us when we discover that our inward balances are not just balances. Now that’s a fairly basic and elementary thing, but it is nevertheless a thing, which can disqualify us from actually coming into His likeness and image. And beloved, make no mistake about it, these things are for the spiritual only. The carnally-minded have no time for it and no place for it, because they have no heart for it. Only the truly spiritual have just balances. Only with the truly spiritual do the true riches weigh more than the deceitful riches.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether:” – Psalm 19:7-9
The law of the Lord, written upon the tablets of our hearts, converts the soul. The testimony of the Lord – that which God has to say about Himself and His purposes – are sure. They make the simple (the uninstructed) wise. The statutes of the Lord – again, His law – are right; they are holy and just and good, and they rejoice the heart. The commandment (not commandments) of the Lord is pure. What is the commandment of the Lord? To love the Lord with all our heart and strength and our neighbor as ourself. The fear (awe and reverence) of the Lord is clean and endures forever. It isn’t light and frivolous. It is clean and makes you feel clean. The judgments of the Lord (His equity and ability to put right what was wrong) are true and righteous altogether. In other words, His balances are just. These things – God’s law, His testimony, His statutes, His commandment, His fear, His judgment – are the true riches and not easily come by. In fact, this psalm goes on to say: “More (emphasis mine) to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.“ – Ps. 19:10
So understand that even though our salvation is a free gift, which cannot be earned or paid for, what we are aiming for is not a gift at all. It is a prize and must be won. I have every confidence that all whose hearts the Lord has graciously touched with His love will have in them a just balance and a true and right sense of what ought to weigh most with them, for where a man’s treasure is, there his heart is also.
In case you are not convinced that the Church as a whole suffers and experiences spiritual lack due to its niggardly giving, then listen to the following story. I know this story to be true because I know the folks in it.
A certain brother is called and anointed of the Lord. God has graciously blessed this brother with a word for the Church and I have sat many times and have been blessed as he ministered that word. This brother has a good, very well-paying job and is somewhat reluctant to leave it because he is not assured that his needs will be met by those to whom he will minister.
He spoke to a couple of men “in the ministry” during a conference some time back and said to them, “Brethren, I’m seriously considering leaving my secular job and going into the ministry full time. What do you think?” “You will starve to death!” was the instant and unhesitating reply spoken as from one with experience. Needless to say, it frightened the inquiring brother so badly that he gave up such a thought altogether.
This story is an indictment against not only the Church, but against the ministry also. If men cannot trust God for their maintenance, rather than God’s people, I’m sure they will starve to death. Still, it shows a glaring lack on the part of all of us whose right and responsibility it is to support the ministry God has given to the Church. Did you notice in this story that because of the miserly way the Church is accustomed to giving (not all, thank God), that there is a bonafide gift, which was given for the express purpose of building up the Church, standing idle? I have little tolerance for men so fearful of their welfare that they are afraid to trust God, but it is obvious to me that the Church must shoulder at least a part of the responsibility for such a loss. Surely the ministry should never be a place chosen by those on the look-out for a lucrative line of work, but it also should not be looked upon as the occupation of beggars and paupers, either.
Finally, my brethren, be of good courage and do what Barnabas at the first exhorted the believers to do: “with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord.“ (Acts 11:23) There is an utterness about all this that will be pressed upon us until the time “when Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested.” T.Austin-Sparks.
MYSTERY OF STEWARDSHIP, THE [Larry Hodges] 1