Monthly Archives: May 2012

Filthy Lucre: Part 1 – From the Pastor’s Toolbox:The Malachi Money Mallet

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre… 1 Timothy 3.3 (KJV)

Outside the church walls the most often reference to Scripture is John 3:16. It is a nice bit of advertizing of the fact that God gave his Son in order that we might have eternal life. We see signs along the roadside, banners and posters at major sporting events and other similar places.

Inside the church walls Malachi 3:8 is the one that seems to be the favorite Bible verse of many pastors. It goes like this, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:8) Never mind that this whole chapter (Read it) is talking about the nation of Israel, and that this theocracy (government by God) needed money from the people of Israel to carry out such obligations such as caring for widows via tithes (Read Malachi 3:5).

MMM. I have heard pastors use it so frequently that I refer to it as the Malachi Money Mallet (MMM). It is a handy device from the pastor’s toolbox. If a pastor wants to impress upon the pew-sitters the importance of giving, he just reaches into his toolbox, pulls out the MMM and clubs the pew-sitters into submission as best he can.

SOS. When pastors use the MMM tool, why do they skip or skim (SOS) other Scriptures in order to hammer the pew-sitters? For example, in the first chapter of Malachi we find this:

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is your fear of Me? says the LORD of Hosts to you priests, who despise My name. Malachi 1:6 (HCSB)

What about the second chapter of Malachi, specifically the first two verses? Could this be a message to those who call themselves pastor? Read on.

Therefore, this decree is for you priests: If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor My name, says the LORD of Hosts, I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart. Malachi 2:1-2 (HCSB)

Perhaps the first two chapters of Malachi are just as important as Malachi 3:8. To ask a direct question, do pastors honor God’s name when they manipulate the pew-sitters with the Malachi 3:8 verse? Would God send a curse among those who do such? Just asking.

TNT. One thing I like about The Apologetics Study Bible by Holman Bible Publishers is the fact that certain Scriptures are highlighted throughout the Bible with an explanation as to how cults have twisted the meanings. These are labeled as Twisted Scriptures. It is a great help for study. My wife will vouch that I often get upset with what I call tweaking the Scriptures by preachers. It is basically proof texting, taking Scripture out of context, and giving a false interpretation. So I have a dislike for the practice of those who Twist N Tweak (TNT) to make a point.

If pastors use any Scripture with the SOS or TNT to manipulate the pew-sitters, it surely fails to honor God, does it not? I am not attempting to make firm conclusions about those who use the MMM, but for the past 20 years or so I have become increasingly upset with the same old playbook for raising money in church congregations while ignoring many other Scriptures that give us guidance under the New Covenant in regard to how we use what God has placed in our hands.

Since we are living under the New Covenant perhaps the following would be more appropriate:
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (HCSB)

Malachi was God’s messenger to a disobedient people who had failed in many ways. I have never heard a sermon where the pastor made a plea to raise money for widows, but I can think of at least three separate cases involving thee different pastors who made pleas for money to build a parking lot. (one was wanting three million dollars) Once when a friend and I were leaving a special church meeting of men, my friend said, “But God doesn’t need a parking lot.” I thought it was a spot on comment considering what took place in the meeting.

The MMM treatment makes giving sound like a necessity to me, because people don’t want to be guilty of robbing God. It’s also hard to be cheerful after the MMM treatment. Matthew 10:42 is another New Testament scripture that is appropriate to highlight here.
And whoever gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple —I assure you: He will never lose his reward! Matthew 10:42 (HCSB)

Let’s not forget about what Jesus said (Matthew 25:34-40) about the righteous treating those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick, and those who are strangers. Jesus basically said the righteous are those who help those in need and in fact, it was just the same as giving to Him.
And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me. Matthew 25:40 (HCSB)

What does the word of God say about pure and undefiled religion?
Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27 (HCSB)

We are living under the New Covenant, yet we get the MMM treatment more than New Testament Scriptures with regard to “giving to God”. Do you need the Scriptures interpreted to you by a man with the Malachi Money Mallet in his hand, a man whose livelihood depends upon your giving, interpreting Scriptures for you? Or, do you think you can study the Bible and let the Holy Spirit teach you Truth?

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