The Subtle Deception
Hello everyone. Have you ever noticed how much mammon and our idea of “successful ministry” are alike? In Mathew 6:24 Jesus says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” A subtle deception the enemy suggests to us is that in order to fulfill our calling we have to arrive at a certain level of material success. This deception, if heeded, can turn our thinking from Christ-centered to ministry-centered and in the end cause everything we ever do in the name of “ministry” to be carried out with the wrong heart motives. The apostle Paul spoke of the motive of the heart as it relates to doing things for God in 1 Corinthians 3 and 4.
1 Corinthians 3:13-14 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (KVJ)
Paul is saying that whatever we do in ministry will be tested by fire at the believer’s judgment. His language paints a picture of a process of purification for metals that was common in that day and is still used in modern times. Metals are heated to a very measured temperature in order to separate what is valuable and what is useless. Particularly with gold and silver, this process is used to clean out the “trash” elements that may be hiding within the much more valuable precious metals. We gain more insight in the next chapter.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who both will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. (NASB)
The trial by fire of our works before God will be a melting away of everything that was not done with a pure motive, and all that remains will be what we did in love.
When we equate ministry success with large offerings or regular incomes or being well-known or even well-liked we start to worship mammon instead of the God of grace who both calls and equips. Self promotion causes us to start seeking man’s approval and we can become caught up in a cycle of following man instead of God. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Psalm 75:6-7 reads, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
As children of God we know that He is always mindful of us. You have not been forgotten. You have not been passed up nor overlooked. God’s purpose and calling for your life is still intact. We can fulfill our calling simply by pursuing our heavenly Father. There is no greater calling or purpose for us than knowing who we are as sons and daughters in the Kingdom. Out of this understanding will come the fulfillment of everything else God has for our lives.