Scripture Reading: Job 19:1-21:34 / Matthew 21:1-17 / Psalm 18:1-6
Did you hear the story about the dollar bill, twenty-dollar bill and the fifty-dollar bill? The twenty-dollar bill shared about the exciting places he had been - the movies, restaurants, and ball games. The fifty-dollar bill interrupted, “I have been at the finest restaurants myself, vacations, country clubs and fashion designer clothing stores.” The dollar bill finally responded with great despondency, “The only place that I go is from offering plate to offering plate.”
This is a humorous story with some truth but thankfully larger bills than $1 make it in the offering plate! I learned a long time ago that God takes care of those who take care of His church (people) and reach His world. We don’t begrudge or criticize successful or blessed ministries; although riches are never to be the motive or measurement for any ministry.
Jesus addressed this issue at the beginning of His ministry (John 2) and at the end of His ministry. He was not meek and mild but authoritative and extreme! “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12,13)
This was the time of Passover and thousands of people came to Jerusalem to present sacrifices at the Temple as required by the Law. People would come from great distances and some would bring their sacrifices while others would purchase them in Jerusalem. Travelers were required to exchange their foreign coins for the acceptable temple shekels so they could pay their annual tribute. The priests and merchants provided a convenient service by selling sacrifices and exchanging currency at the temple. Except, they set up shop in the Temple.
Outwardly, these services seemed to be beneficial, helpful and innocent; yet inwardly, they were greedy, ungodly and unscrupulous. The poor were allowed to present a dove or pigeon that normally cost 5 or 10 cents, yet were charged $4 to $5 for them at the temple. The moneychangers also required a 25% exchange fee. The priests also got a percentage of the sales that made this even more reprehensible.
Christ’s work and ministry is to be treated with reverence and honor. Ministry is not about riches, gain, success or advancement. It is about Godly character, integrity and lifestyles. Maybe it’s time to overturn some misguided and ungodly attitudes in our hearts. Maybe it’s time to examine our motives and desires. Maybe it’s time to throw off the trappings of our culture and engross ourselves by passionately pursuing God in prayer, fellowship, His Word and by His Spirit. There are no “maybe’s” about it… it is imperative we follow Him faithfully and fully!