Saturday, December 15, 2012

Filthy Lucre

1Timothy 3:3, "Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;"

1Timothy 3:8, "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;"

Titus 1:7, "For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;"

Titus 1:11, "Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake."

1Peter 5:2, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"

*Note: When the author renders the word 'Church' as shown here, he is referring to the Corporate based, Business Entity, Institutional 'Church' System of man's design. When he renders the word church in all lower case letters, he is referring to Christ's Authentic, Legitimate Home based church He created and continues to build.


What is filthy lucre exactly within the context of these Scriptures? Most people believe that it means that a pastor is restricted to making an honest living within the confines of what is offered to him by his congregation. Aside from the paycheck he receives generated by the tithes and offerings that come from within the 'Church,' he would be allowed, even encouraged, to supplement his income by selling books and tape series if he wished to, or even sell cars on the side if that is to his liking. But, whatever he chooses to do must be legitimate and honest. In our society we accept the concept that pastors, with few exceptions, don't make a lot of money in their Profession. Although this perception is accurate, it has been nonetheless cultivated (through years of indoctrination) that it has become a Profession for pay. This idea has been spun by those who had the notion that there are TWO separate classes of people within the church; clergy and laity. I'm not talking about the New Covenant church, which is the description given to churches found within the N.T. pages of Scripture. I'm talking about today's man made, mainstream, business entity enterprise organization that masquerades as a church. Unfortunately, most people unwittingly belong and become 'members' of this organization. These are the same 'Churches' we see on virtually every street corner, rural landscape and phone book.

The two classes of clergy and laity are man-made concepts invented by the early Institutional 'Church' Fathers. Augustine, Loyola, Aquinas and Origin are among the many that could be named.
They believed and commanded that these two classes of people within the 'Church' were to be segregated one from another in a fraternity sense. Even the early Institutional 'Church' buildings had a layout, which would physically separate the "holy fathers" from the commoners by employing a partition between the "altar" (i.e. a stage, platform or other characteristic that would place the focus on the clergy) and the pews. This blueprint has evolved from the early Roman courtrooms. When Rome became a theocracy they converted these courtrooms into 'Church' buildings to reflect a more religious feel. This construct has been carried down through the centuries and is sometimes still used. In most 'Churches' the partition has been removed, but the partition within our minds retains the idea of separation between these two imposed positions.

Why is this important to our study regarding filthy lucre? Because it is the perception of what Paul meant about not being greedy of filthy lucre that is in question. Has our perception of this belief been formed through suggestion? If so, who changed this perception? We don't have far to look. The early 'Church' fathers not only wanted to control the people in their new form of government, they also wanted to get paid for doing it. Let's take a guess where the money came from? What better way than to start telling the people they governed what to think to accomplish this? If they believed it, they'd do it, and they've been paying through the nose 'doing it' ever since.

In the true and authentic New Covenant first century church, there was no such thing as pastors receiving a living within the confines of the church. The pastors were all stationary. They didn't travel much so that they could feed their flocks locally. What kind of shepherd would be worth his salt if he didn't stay around his flock? Not only that, but how many shepherds do we know who ever received pay from their sheep? That'd be a first, wouldn't it? They had secular jobs or careers apart from the church. The congregants were not expected or commanded to pay a pastor a wage. As we'll see below, the term "not greedy of filthy lucre" had a totally different meaning attached to it.

As I thought about this I realized that most folks think it is natural, even commanded that they pay their pastors a living because they are looking at this scenario through Institutional eyes. We have been conditioned to believe that becoming a pastor gives him a 'Right of Passage' concerning gaining a 'living' from his assembly. Most folks within the Institute do not know of any other way to see it. What I will attempt to show is that since we are looking at this from a preconceived idea, we just might be missing what Scripture is truly teaching. What I'd like to do is see if we can adjust our mind's eye and see what the Bible actually said and not assume what we think it means regarding this business of not being greedy of filthy lucre.

False Perception of Bishops and Deacons

It is believed far and wide that pastors should accept a paycheck for their services as the leader of their local 'Church.' I won't go into all of the intricacies of why a clergymen shouldn't be paid. My earlier post, 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' should cover all of the whys. What I want to do here is focus on what filthy lucre [is] and how it applies to these passages of Scripture and the New Covenant church. I think when we uncover its true intention, it'll give us a clear perspective of how it applies to pastors, deacons and the church.

In 1Timothy and Titus 1:7 we see three verses that give bishops and deacons the same admonition. Don't be greedy of filthy lucre. But what does this really teach? Within the Institutional 'Church' model it is widely accepted that those of the Profession of being a Senior or Junior Pastor should be rendered a paycheck just as any other member of a corporate staff would. But, Paul is not writing to an Institutional 'Church' in 1Timothy. He's writing to a New Covenant house church of Jesus' design and makeup. It is from here that we turn this 'pay the preacher' concept over on its ear. Let us look at this from the perspective from those within a house church.

In 1Peter 5:2 we see that elders should be feeding the flock not by constraint, but willingly. But to add emphasis to this thought he continues with, "...; not for filthy lucre." Believe me, if I am being paid a living to feed my flock, I'm automatically 'willing.' I don't need any more incentive than that. So why would Peter use the term 'willingly' if it didn't come from a sense of one sacrificing his time and effort without expecting anything in return? It almost sounds as though taking money as a living from those in the church body would be considered unethical. Some would say, "Well, it said, not for filthy lucre. It's okay to earn clean lucre in the pastor's Profession!" And we read this,....where? Just where is it shown in God's Word that pastors should earn a living tending the flock of God? And where does it even imply that the pastorate is a Profession to begin with?

Here's another question for us to consider: Have we ever heard of a deacon receiving a full time paycheck from the tithe and offerings as pastors do? I haven't. This is a big deal when we shed the light of 1Timothy 3:8 on it. Why? Because deacons are admonished along side of the bishops that they shouldn't be greedy of filthy lucre. If one statement applies to the pastor receiving pay as the Institutionalist would claim, why doesn't it apply to a deacon receiving pay when the same command is given to him? If we look closely at both qualifications for a bishop and a deacon, there is little that separates them. There isn't much contrast except how much wine each could partake of. The deacon isn't to be given to 'much' wine and the bishop (pastor) isn't to be given to any wine at all.

Not only that, but if we look at all those who donate their time and effort toward the upkeep of the 'Church' Properties and Programs, we could assume that they spend the same amount of time, if not more, at 'Church' that would equal at least a part time job. And do you know why they don't get paid? Because it's not within the 'Church's' budget for them to get paid. These folks donate their time, talents and effort more willingly than the pastors do. And, they still do not get paid a dime! They think they are laying up treasures in Heaven when all they're doing is supporting a business entity free of charge. No, this statement of not being greedy of filthy lucre is more of a warning regarding Protecting one's character, morality, integrity and most importantly their testimony for Christ! These verses have nothing to do with receiving pay from the pews. It's a testimony thing, not a payroll issue.

What Do These Verses REALLY Say?

In my home church we have several men who we recognize as pastors. I will focus on two in particular. One man owns his own business. He supports his family the Bible way by supporting himself, not the religious establishment's way where the church supports him. He works for a living as an independent contractor. He makes an honest living from honest hard work. Another gentleman works for a factory. Again, an honest job for an honest wage. Both men help tend to the feeding and Protection of Jesus' home based church, but they don't receive pay for it from our congregation. They wouldn't take the money even if it was offered. The hard nosed Institutionalist would find this idea repulsive. Why? Because he's used to bellowing out, "I'M GONNA MAKE SURE THAT I TAKE CARE OF MY PASTOR!" Oh boy! I couldn't wait to get away from guys like that. Back to my two home church pastors. What would be considered filthy lucre in a home based church of Jesus' design?

Let's say that my first pastor uses his business as a front to launder money for some irreparable business concern. The payment he would get from these extra curricular activities would definitely be considered filthy lucre, would it not? The second pastor uses his contacts on the assembly line to sell prescription drugs on his breaks under the table. This would be considered receiving and being greedy of filthy lucre as well. From this perspective, we can see that the Bible could just as easily be speaking about filthy lucre in this context than what we would normally consider in the Institutional model. Since pastors and deacons weren't paid a living for their service from the church in the first century, why would they receive it now? The religious establishment of man's design has made the office of a bishop into a Profession for pay. If money weren't in the equation for a bishop to receive pay to begin with, where would the opportunity reside for them to get ill gotten gain? From the outside, that's where! Hiring a pastor was never sanctioned by Jesus. See my post, 'The Hireling' for more.

Is Being a Pastor a Ministry or a Profession?

It is more likely that these Scriptural references were written to show us that not getting ill gain was a moral, character and  testimony issue; that a pastor or deacon should never be acquainted with such behavior because it would tarnish our Saviour's name among those who may not know Him as God Almighty. But, by the same token, God's Word never implied that a bishop was to receive permanent or partial pay or that it was a Profession. It has always been a ministry. If this is the case, then where did we get the idea that paying the clergy was a mandate from God? Simple; from the one's who created the clergy and laity classes. Here's another question to chew on: If it was so important for a pastor to receive pay, why wasn't it covered in more detail by Jesus, Peter or Paul? Peter was an elder and he never was paid a living from the congregation. He said, "...silver and gold have I none!"~Acts 3:6. Jesus was the Pastor of all pastors and yet He never received pay! He didn't even have a place to live! Supporting references for church leaders to receive money are  sketchy and vague at best. For sure, this idea is never supported by any Scriptural references that I am aware of. One might say, "Oh no? What about...?" Yeah, yeah, I know:

The Natural Law of Sowing and Reaping Applies

1Corinthians 9:9-11, "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"

Most of the clergy have wrested these verses to make the congregant believe that this is a proof text to support the idea that they are to be paid a living for their services as pastor. Baloney! In my post, 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' I show that Paul is simply illustrating the natural law of sowing and reaping and that pastors deriving a paycheck was never this passage's intent. One who works, knowing that he'll get a paycheck doesn't "plow in HOPE." There is no hope involved if a man knows he'll get paid for his labor. The difference is, the ox doesn't know he'll receive anything for his labor. He just hopes that he will get something to eat. So, he plows on hoping that after his day of plowing is done his hope of getting a reward of feed might be realized. That's why it is a natural law instead of a contractual one. Only men insist on contracts because men do not trust one another as a rule of thumb. Animals in the natural world think much differently. Paul was saying that the man who takes care of the flock of God should expect nothing in return, but hope that God will meet his needs in a similar way on his real job, just as the ox hopes and receives his reward of sustenance. In other words, God will bless the hands of the man who works to support his family who also takes care of his flock at the same time. Being a pastor was never a full time job, just as being a deacon isn't considered a full time job either. Being a pastor is a ministry just as being a deacon is a ministry. Remember, men made the pastor-ship a full time position, not Paul and certainly not Jesus.

Why would the Lord be so silent on the issue of pastors receiving pay if it were so important? Again, let me emphasize that I am talking about permanent pay, not occasional Spirit led free will giving. I'd advise us not to fall into the trap of thinking Institutionally when it comes to issues like this one. Too many people believe what they want to believe and hear what they want to hear no matter how weak their reasoning might be as long as it supports what they want and not necessarily what God said. That, my friends, is the cornerstone of the business of religion. They'll try and make anything sound Scriptural if they can twist things around far enough. So it is with those who support the idea that pastors should be paid. It's a pure case of assuming one thing from the eyes of man's traditional way of thinking and not realizing that there is another possibility. In other words, the clergy that taught them these things may actually be wrong!

Thinking Outside of the Box

If we think outside the box of the Institution, perhaps we might see things as they really are instead of staring at just the walls of the box. Inside the Institutional 'Church' box, we can only see what is prescribed by that 'Church' as a result of their Projected perceptions. We need to position ourselves outside of that box and get an overview of what is more accurate by using God's Word to define the Lord's perimeters. If our perception is off because we've been led down the primrose path of what the clergy want us to believe, so is our understanding of Scripture in this area (or any other area) of doctrine they might want us to follow. If I were an eagle walking on the ground looking for a rabbit to kill for supper, I most likely would be hindered by the view. All I would see were the rocks and trees around me. Perhaps a rabbit would be hiding right behind a rock where I was passing by and I would miss him. Why? Because my perspective was limited and therefore hindered. But, if I took flight and soared over my hunting grounds, I could see a lot clearer and over a larger area to find my prey. This is why it is more advantageous to focus on what the Bible says instead of man. If all we see is what the Institutional model for 'Church' shows us, that is all we'll understand. It's important to get a different view. If one wants to be surprised, all he has to do is look within their Bible to see that there was no Institutional model for Believers. It was always the home church assembly, which was never tied to the local government as they are today. Now let's look at this issue from a different perspective.

The Bird's Eye View

Looking through the bird's eye from outside the box and a wide berth, let us now see the type of individuals the term, 'filthy lucre' is associated with. In Titus 1:11 Paul places a narrow focus onto those who subvert the home church. We'll notice a distinct contrast between verses 7 through 9 and verses 10 through 16 regarding those that are good and those that are evil.  Titus 1:7-16, "For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." Notice all of the negative accusations he dishes out? This is quite an indictment coming from one as humble as Paul. It looks like some of these Yahoos were actually getting paid from the outside to disrupt the churches of God there in Crete. They bad-mouthed the locals and tried to indoctrinate them with man's traditions and Jewish fables. If one doesn't think this goes on today, I have some beach front Property in the Himalayas I'd like to sell.

Look in verse 11 where it says, ",...for filthy lucre's sake." The two main words I want to focus on here are 'for' and 'sake.' These men had a reason to disrupt the church. That's where the word 'for' comes into play. They had an agenda. They had a reason. What was their motive? To gain money! From where? Answer: From the Jewish religious establishment of the day. Why, and for what sake? Because this New Covenant church was cutting in on the Jewish elder's congregations. The more people that left the synagogues for this new found belief in Christ, the more the elders hated it. People were leaving in droves. The establishment would pay anyone almost any amount to circumvent what the Jewish elders considered their new competition. Here we can see the driving motive behind all of this bad behavior. As far as the recipient of the filthy lucre is concerned, the lucre was his sake. 

  • To recap, we've seen how that the message of man has changed our view of the Biblical landscape by giving us definitions different from what the Bible teaches as to what a pastor's functions are and how he is to view his position as a pastor. From man's perspective, being a pastor is a Profession for pay. He receives his pay derived from tithes and offerings from his congregants. From the Bible's perspective, he is a minister who supports his family through working a local job. Like a shepherd, he doesn't receive pay from his sheep anymore than actual sheep give payment to him that shepherds them.
  • Our perspective has been turned askew through centuries of manipulation and conditioning by the religious machine's early Institutional 'Church' fathers. Through traditions and made up hand-me-down theology, we've been misled into believing that there are two classes of people within the church; clergy and laity. Within the Institutional model of the mainstream 'Church' we see that the one percent controls the other 99% through intimidation, manipulation, deceit and simple 'blind leading.' I believe most pastors today fall into this last category where they fake it, follow a Program and what other more experienced pastors share with them. This happens every day. We see that Scripture points to equality in the church and not a hierarchy. Our only head is Jesus, not a Senior pastor.
  • The command against being greedy of filthy lucre applies not just to pastors, but deacons as well, yet no deacon generally receives pay from the congregation as pastors do. This lone fact demonstrates a double standard generated from the clergy's point of view. Not only don't deacons receive pay, but those who volunteer their time and effort to maintain a facility do not receive pay. What makes these guys behind the pulpits of America so special that they do and we don't?
  • Even nature teaches us that having hope is different than expecting something in return. 1Cortinians 9's lesson regarding the natural law of reaping and sowing shows us that we are not to expect any monetary gain for ministering to God's people. The minister should work with his own two hands to support himself and his family. God will bless his efforts in his work so that he can minister as a part time pastor. It's not a Profession.
  • We've seen how 'not being greedy of filthy lucre' is a testimony issue, not a pay issue.
 Questions to Consider
  • Does 'not being greedy of filthy lucre' really mean what we've been taught? 
  •  Has our perception of what a pastor should be been altered through the manipulation of others?  
  • And lastly, have we become so dependent on what our pastor's tell us that we cannot see what God is showing us in His Word? 
I'd say these are legitimate questions we really should be pondering. If we are real truth seekers, perhaps we should ask God to show us these truths. For that to happen, we'll need to ask Him to remove the scales from our eyes. Here is hoping we'll all do just that. Amen!


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