And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel... His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.
Priests instruct for a price and... prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord saying, 'Is not the Lord in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us.'
Are we at the end of it?
When Jesus overturned the coins on the money changers' tables, when He made a scourge of cords to drive out both buyers and sellers,* He commanded: 'Stop making My Father's house a place of business' (John 2:16).
While various merchants were selling their wares around the temple, such as animals for sacrifice or money for donations, one might argue they were assisting in the business of the Lord: providing services that helped His people worship properly.
Perhaps the priests also received a cut of every transaction. Based on their shrewdness and priorities, I'm believing they did. Did they think it a win-win-win? The sellers, the buyers and God?
To consider our churches as businesses seems reasonable. But among those declaring God as their Boss, one question looms large:
Are we, His servants, seeking 'First His Kingdom and His righteousness' (Matthew 6:33)? Are we trusting Him to provide all of our needs, just as we preach? Or are we savvy businessmen, seeking first our own welfare?
Because if profit becomes our focus, then churches commit sin. Both the Old and New Testaments warn us of this creeping problem. So how can we know good ones from bad? 'You will know them by their fruits' (Matthew 7:16).
Consider two visible signs:
1) Is your church focused on the poor? Because Jesus focused on them. He was remarkably clear: how we treat them is how we treat Him.**
2) Are church leaders exampling Christ? Do they look and live like Jesus? Are they unselfishly willing to sacrifice themselves for us?***
To Be Continued...
* Jesus driving out the temple profiteers: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+2%3A14-16&version=NASB; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+21%3A12-13&version=NASB
** Judgment criteria: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A31-46&version=NKJV
*** The Good Shepherd v. the hireling: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+10%3A11-15&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Poor People series.