Saturday, November 1, 2014

Let not CROOKS dupe you of your “Cheerful Giving”

Dear in Christ,

2 Co 9:7 is one of the scriptures most brutally misused and quoted out of context by money hungry crooks to fleece credulous flock of their hard earned money.



2Co 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
Everyone wants to be in the good books of God, so they tend to "give" without even considering the fact that God loved us and Christ died for us even while we were sinners (Rom 5:8) and God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son (Joh 3:16) for its redemption. It appears that they believe that God would love them more if they dump the contents of their wallets into the collection plates.





Dear in Christ, it is time we learn to read the scriptures in context so that none would dupe us. As you would see from this post, they are not duping you alone, they are duping God by misusing scriptures; also, they are depriving the poor children of God of their Heavenly Father's provision for them!

The context:

Let us analyze the context. The very first verse of the chapter provides us with the subject under discussion:
2Co 9:1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints,
Is there a single passage in the Bible which says that preachers and pastors alone are saints? Are not all "those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesussaints? (Rev 14:13)

The same theme occurs in 1Co 16 as well, where it is specified that the collection is meant for the saints in Jerusalem:

1Co 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints:... 1Co 16:3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.
Both the epistles were written by Paul from Ephesus to the church in Corinth (precisely, Achaia, a village in the region of Corinth). Both the passages mention the brethren in Macedonia and and collection for saintsThe point is: both the passages are about the same topic.

Whereas 1Cor 16:3 talks about carrying the gift to Jerusalem, 2Cor 9:3-5 talk about keeping the gift ready so that Paul and his fellow brethren could receive it from them.
2Co 9:3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be.
2Co 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction
If the gift were meant for the consumption of the local church, there was absolutely no necessity for Paul and his fellow brethren to travel all the way to Achaia in Corinth to receive it. In those days, with hardly any money transfer facilities, collecting gifts and hand delivering it to the needy was the only available option. (Gift could be anything, money, food, clothing, medicine ... But it is reasonable to think it was money, because, if it were perishable items, collected over a year or so, it may not benefit anyone. Moreover, carrying food supplies over a long distance would be hard.) Paul and his fellow brethren were doing the part of carrying the gift to the needy. We will come back to this point.

The purpose of the collection and Old Testament references.

Though it was previously mentioned that the collection was for the ministry of saints, 2Cor 9 throws more light on who these needy are:

2Co 9:9 As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." 
This passage refers to:
Psa 112:9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.
The Greek word translated as "poor" in 2Co 9:9 is used only once in the Bible, whereas the Hebrew word used in Ps 112:9, H34 in Strong's Lexicon, is used 62 times and it always means "poor" or "needy". 

So, the talk is about "poor" and not of priests, pastors or preachers. The chapter repeats its assertion that the collection is for meeting the needs of the saints:
2Co 9:12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
The fact that Paul was mobilizing resources for saints in Jerusalem is not the important thing. Even if there were needy people elsewhere he would have done the same thing. It is believed that there were issues of famines, food shortages and overpopulation in Jerusalem during the time the two epistles to Corinthians were written. It would be safe to think that Paul was raising funds to help the affected Christians there.

Do we have records of church buildings constructed in Jerusalem during the first century? Do we have records of salaries being paid to preachers in the first century? Is it reasonable to think that Paul was in fact raising funds for building churches and parsonages in Jerusalem, despite the repeated assertion that the collection is for the needy saints?

What if there were needy saints locally in Achaia (Corinth)?

In such a scenario, do you really think that Paul (who was then in Ephesus) would have written to the church in Corinth to collect and keep the gifts from local church members for more than a year (2Cor 9:2) before he himself and the brothers from Macedonia would come and distribute the gifts among the local poor? If the local poor could survive for over a year without such gifts, they could probably have survived without anyone's assistance at all. If there are poor among the brethren in your locality, will you keep gifts collected till such time some VIP arrives and distributes it?

In other words, do you see the necessity of the local church involving in raising funds for the local poor? Where there is a famine or some other calamity, there may be a need for many people to come forward to help the needy, but that needs not always be through a church organisation. Yes, if the church takes the initiative, it is well and good.

What the passage does not say:
  • Does the chapter say anything about church/parsonage building funds?
  • Does it say anything about pastor's salary?
  • Does it say anything about settling bills?
Q: How the churches are to be constructed, preachers are to be paid and bills are to be settled if there are no collections? 

A: Where does the Bible say about constructing church buildings?At least in three passages it is told that churches (believers) used to gather in the houses of the saints. (Rom 16:5; 1Co 16:19; Col 4:15; Phm 1:2). Nowhere it is mentioned that we need to construct buildings if the numbers increase. On the contrary, it is told several times that God does not dwell in building made by hands.




Could Jesus have really visualized thousands thronging into a building to worship Him?

Q: How about the preachers' salary?
A: Was not Apostle Paul not the one who traveled extensively and spread the Christian faith, far and wide? What was his salary? He admits that he received gifts from believers (Phil. 4:15-18), but often he used to refuse material compensation (1 Cor. 9:15-18). He used to work as manual laborer (1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:7-8 ).

Tell me, whether your pastor has done more work for God than Apostle Paul to demand a salary? Do you really think if Paul were alive today he would have sought to have fat salary, mansions, private jets and estates? What makes your pastor superior to Apostle Paul?





If your pastor is financially poor, yes, he deserves to be helped, but he should not misuse scriptures for his gains. If your pastor is a billionaire, do you really think it is legitimate for him to demand money using the passages that are specifically written to encourage us to help the poor.

Conclusion

The passages often cited to encourage you to be a cheerful giver are misused by preachers to garner money for themselves. As we have seen, the passages are about raising funds for needy saints in remote places. If you you want to help the local poor, hand over gift directly to them. If the needy is in a remote place, now in this 21st century, we have means of transferring funds directly to them. 

No matter how you esteem your billionaire pastor, Jesus says none can serve God and Mammon simultaneously. (Mat 6:24)


In Christ,