Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 18, 1971
NUMBER 44, PAGE 5a-6

Charging The Rich — — (II.)

Dick Blackford

We laid a Biblical foundation in our first article on this subject. Now for some specific applications. (Reread I Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19).

To Churches

No doubt, it would be "safer" for a man who is not receiving outside support to deal with this subject, but regardless of the "risk," some things need to be said. Preachers are not totally to blame for the preacher shortage or for the fact that some preachers are dividing their time. On the contrary, perhaps much of it can be attributed to churches who have little consideration or care for those whom they are supporting. (I have been quite fortunate in my relations with those from whom I have derived support. One even gave me a raise without my asking.) Many preachers seek other income because they cannot "provide for their own" on what they are getting. Money problems can greatly hinder a preacher's work. There are some churches who have a name that they "are rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing." totally unaware that they are near being "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked," Rev. 3:17. They won't even bother to spend the price of a post card to answer a preacher's request for support — even if all it says is no. There are more than a few isolated cases of this kind.

Then some fit into another category. They don't have much money but they can go head-over-heels in debt to purchase a fancy building. Yet how many are that concerned about supporting a gospel preacher? I have yet to hear of a church borrowing as much as $1.00 to support a gospel preacher in a difficult area. Congregations can become too obsessed over possessions (buildings, etc.). Frankly, I doubt that the Lord could care less whether we have cushioned seats on which to rest our bottoms. Our preoccupation with "things" indicates that an element of prestige is often involved whether we like to admit it or not. (Did someone mention an "inferiority complex")? Twentieth century churches should be emulating the Philippians (4:16-18), not the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:14-22).

To The Brethren

Sometimes this sense of values (desire for riches) is seen among the members when a congregation has been infiltrated with the "selling" craze. A good turn-out can be had in one of the members homes to "pep up" those who are selling a product. But try having a meeting to pep them up for soul winning and observe the difference in numbers present and enthusiasm. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," Mt. 6:21. Is it any wonder that preachers have been influenced by the covetous example that has been set by many brethren?

In passing, we might mention that if brethren are having difficulty with "problem children" they might reexamine their attitudes toward possessions. Some become so involved in the "business world" they have no time to be husbands and fathers. It is often a case of "problem parents." The increase in the number of women working away from home is also a problem. Most of the time it is because of a desire for possessions and not because the family is starving (let's be honest). Here are some questions for mothers working outside the home. (1) Do you have difficulty getting your children to mind? (2) Do they have more respect and behave better for the baby-sitter than for you? (3) Are the extra luxuries worth your working away from home? What is it doing to your family? You need to answer these questions now! Juvenile delinquency was nearly non-existent until mothers began leaving their children for others to rear. God has appointed for you a sphere in which to function (I Tim. 5:14; Titus 2:5). Do you think you can improve upon it (I Tim. 6:6-10)?

Too many brethren are too concerned about things, Things, Things! "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth..."

To Preachers

All preachers are underpaid. By that, I mean I have never known a preacher who was being paid what he thought he was worth. (Could use a raise myself). And while churches need to be educated regarding changes in the cost of living and expenses that are peculiar to preachers, our remarks are here addressed to the preacher himself.

Why did you begin preaching? To make money? A fellow preacher trying to "sell" me on selling a well known brand of household products began his conversation by saying, "Dick, I've found that you just can't make any money preaching." From then on all I could see were the $$ in his eyes. I was well aware of his introductory statement, but my short tenure in the preaching profession has taught me that a man is not prepared to be a gospel preacher unless he is ready and willing to make some sacrifices — and often some big ones, I Tim. 1:8; 4:5. I am acquainted with preachers who have innocently entered the selling profession (mutual funds, shoes, household products, etc.) with good intentions but later slacked off in their preaching. I heard of one who stated that he wanted to get to the point where he could "preach when he wanted to and not preach when he didn't want to." Another told me he was so busy that he hated to see company pull in the driveway (which is why I've never been to his home though we are not far apart). Believe me, this is a touchy subject. But the things I am saying are not intended to be derogatory toward some product (members of my family are involved). So please don't misunderstand. What I have to say may be minimized by both preachers and churches. But, nevertheless, it is time we sat up and took notice of a very dangerous trend.

This writer is fully aware of the scripturalness of a secular job (Paul's tent-making, Acts 18:3). But I have never gotten the impression that Paul's desire was to keep up with the neighbors (or members) nor that he had rather be making tents than preaching. Obviously, if one is involved in selling and pushing he will have less time for his duties as a preacher.

Perhaps a warning should be issued regarding brethren who "with feigned words would make merchandise of you" with religious products. Though I have not meant to leave the impression that all selling brethren are guilty, neither do I wish to leave the impression that all are innocent. There are more religious gimmicks on the market than a thousand centipedes have legs — all the way from "quickie" conversion kits to How To Read The Greek New Testament by Guy Woods (paperback, big print, 106 pages, $6.00 — ridiculous). ($ome have also "made merchandi$e" via gape' meeting$). Beware of temptation.

One other thing to which brethren involved in selling should give more thought — and that is toward those whom they are persuading to enter the business. If some of these products have the great potential that is often stated, there are many whom I would not want to see involved because of their weaknesses toward possessions. It could lead to their downfall — myself not excluded. I am ashamed but honest to admit that one of the great temptations that faces me every April 14 is to cheat on my income tax. I have not succumbed nor do I intend to, but if I had an extra income it seems the temptation would be greater. The Bible character, Barnabas, has impressed me much. Instead of using his field to make extra money, he untangled himself from the affairs of this life and sold it, placing the money at the apostles' feet, Acts 4:36, 37.


This topic is by no means exhausted. But it is earnestly hoped that we will regain and retain our senses in the midst of a world gone mad for possessions, pleasure, and prestige. The covetous will be lost, Col. 3:5-7. "Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?" Gal. 4:16. "Hearken my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him?" Js. 2:5. If you are rich in this world's goods or if you are "minded to be rich," consider yourself charged. (I Tim. 6:9, 17).

— P. O. Box 147, Trumann, Ark. 72472