“What is your cut from the offering?” I was startled by his question. I thought he was joking. However, as the conversation continued I realized he was serious. This person actually thought that since I was a pastor, I received a percentage of the offerings every week! I quickly explained I was paid a salary. I made sure he knew I had absolutely nothing to do with the money in the church.
People making money off God is nothing new. The prophet Balaam took money to curse one’s enemy. He is forever remembered as the preacher reprimanded by a donkey. The Lord Jesus warns, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” He continues, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evil-doers!” (Matt.7:15-16; 22-23).
The Apostle Paul writes: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). Not to be left out, Peter notes, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (2Pet.2:1).
Listen to Paul, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” I was struck with the words, “Unlike so many”. Even at this early time in the Church there were those who were out to be “Profits” rather than Prophets. We should not be surprised by those on TV who make outlandish promises: if I only sow into their ministry, I am promised all kinds of miracles and amounts of money. Of course, they back up these promises with stories from around the world. I wonder about their truthfulness, don’t you?
I am sure some are godly and truthful. I am certain some are like Paul–“sent from God.” I am also sure some are false prophets. Remember that the size of their crowd, the miracles, and the power to cast out demons were not to be the test. Jesus said plainly: “Look at their fruit.” We are to look at their lives. How are they living? Does their lifestyle look anything like that of the Lord Jesus or the apostles? Are lives really being changed by their message? Does the Spirit in you bear witness with the spirit in them?
Some may say we are not to judge. Well, you’ll have to take that up with the Lord Jesus, for He is the one who told us to make a judgment call about their fruit. He said if you see bad fruit, then it is a bad tree. I’m just saying . . . if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, more than likely it’s a duck! Profit or Prophet—you make the call!