You shall know them by their . . . excess?


I am reminded of something I read about John Stott a while ago. He said that he wanted to live a lifestyle that would not cause the richest person in his congregation to feel sorry for him. Nor did he want the poorest person in his congregation to be put off by ostentation. He wanted to have a home where everyone would feel welcomed and comfortable. He wanted his home and lifestyle to be a platform for ministry.

The Apostle Paul was a good example to us in living in such a way as to make clear that his reason for ministry was only to bring the Gospel to those who desperately needed it. In 1 Corinthians 9:12, Paul tells his readers that while he had the right to expect the Corinthians to support him in his ministry, he worked to support himself lest his motive for ministry be questioned.

I have no idea what motivates the church leaders mentioned in the article. That is the problem, we don’t know. Their life style gives reason for some to question their motives, or assume that they are in ministry only for the money.

Of course, the church leaders who get it right and who work outside the church or who make do on small salaries for the privilege of sharing the Gospel do not make splashy headlines. For every church leader who participates in the abuse mentioned in the article, there are thousands or perhaps millions of men and women who serve their Lord in the church with no expectation of financial reward.

So, if you are one who is outside the church, I ask forgiveness for these abuses. I also ask you to look beyond what a few knuckleheads have done and judge the Church by her body of work through the ages. The abuse of a few does not nullify the fruitful sacrifice of the many.