A Laborer Worthy of His Hire
Vol: 65 Issue: 26 Monday, February 26, 2007
I have a confession to make. I almost never watch Christian television. I have several reasons I can offer for why I don’t — but the primary reason is because it usually makes me angry.
Without naming names, (since I don’t believe God has called me to do that), I am often sickened by the commercialization of Christianity.
That is not to say that I object to the Body of Christ supporting Christian ministries. Indeed, that is the way God intended ministry to operate.
Christian ministry was intended to be a full-time vocation. If the Lord has called someone to full time Christian service, then that service IS their job. When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel, He gave them specific instructions:
“Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the Son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is WORTHY OF HIS HIRE. Go not from house to house.” (Luke 10:4-7)
Further, Scripture teaches: “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. . . But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word.” (Acts 6:2,4)
Note several important truths here. First, ‘carry neither scrip (money) nor purse’ (to carry it in). A minister’s reliance is on the Lord for provision, not an outside job.
“No man can serve two masters,” the Lord taught, “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” (money). (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13)
Secondly, the Lord instructed His ministers to accept what is offered for provisions by His people — not to go begging from ‘house to house.’
Finally, the Lord says that, once a minister accepts the ministry the Lord has given him, he is to remain with it and be satisfied with the provision made for him. The first priority of ministry is to give oneself continually to prayer and the “ministry of the Word.”
Leaving the Word of God to earn a living at something else (“wait tables”) is not reasonable, given the importance of the mission at hand.
But the mission of ministry is NOT to make money. It is to serve the purpose of our calling. To minister to the faithful and to carry the Good News to the lost.
On Christian TV, one too often sees ministers wearing $1000 suits and $5000 Rolex watches, holding microphones in manicured hands, and imploring the faithful to send money to their ministries for the “work of the Lord.”
What turns me off about Christian TV is the fact that, more often than not, the main message is financial. More effort is expended in fund-raising than actual ministry.
It turns my stomach to hear a full-time minister twist the Gospel message into a multi-level marketing scheme. (“If you send me $100 in ‘seed money’ then God will send you $1000.”)
If that’s how it is supposed to work, then why don’t THEY drop $100 into their own ministries and wait for God to send them the ten-fold increase? When they get their $1000, they can drop it back into the plate, get $10,000, then contribute the $10,000 and wait for the $100,000?
In no time at all, they’d have so much money THEY could send some to YOU.
The majority of prime-time TV evangelists seem to me to spend less time feeding their flock than they do asking their flock to feed THEM. It is worth remembering that Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and seven fishes.
I am not saying that all Christian TV ministry is like that. (Hal’s isn’t, for example). But enough of it is that I generally don’t watch Christian TV programming.
And there wasn’t much I learned at the recent NRB convention that caused me to rethink my admittedly cynical assessment.
One of the few Christian television programs I DO watch is “Zola Levitt Presents”. Anybody who watches that program can see how their ministry contributions are being spent.
Right now, they are running an eight-part series on the Book of Daniel. The production values were stunning. But their message was not “send me money” but rather, “Shalu Shalom Yerushalayim” (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.)
In the most recent program, I was transported (by the ‘magic’ of television) to the Valley of Elah in Israel where a young shepherd named David defeated the Phillistine giant Goliath — equipped with nothing but his faith in the Lord and a slingshot.
God’s money was spent to bring the Bible to life before my eyes and to bring the importance of Israel into context, and to underscore the threat it faces on all sides.
As most of you know, I was recently in Dallas where I spent some time with the people who put “Zola Levitt Presents” together. There was not a Rolex to be found. Instead of $1000 suits, there was a rack of old sports jackets for the on-air personalities, similar to those I would have in my own closet. (If I HAD a closet)
Their program isn’t recorded in an expensive, fancy studio. It is recorded in Zola’s ordinary den in Zola’s ordinary house.
Zola went home to be with the Lord last year, but his ministry continues to soldier on — from that ordinary den in that ordinary house — despite the left boot of fellowship afforded them by “The Big Network” right after Zola’s passing. In spite of the drastic reduction in their audience, they’ve stayed faithful to the message.
I care about ministry. I care about the negative image the world has of TV ministry, and I care about how that image hurts the message of the Gospel. And I care about you, my friends and fellow laborers for the Kingdom. I don’t much care about money (which works out well, since I haven’t any to care about).
But I DO care about what happens to yours.
So, where I am going with this? If you are a supporter of TV ministry, “Zola Levitt Presents” is worthy of your support. I say that sincerely. (Nobody has ever asked me to plug Zola — unless you count the leading of the Lord).
I also encourage you to pray for Dr. Seif and for Sandra Levitt — they have taken on an enormous responsibility before the Lord. Their ministry mission is to introduce the Jews to their Messiah and to minister to believing Jews. It is a worthy objective, and they approach it with the respect it deserves.
We need to pray that God will grant them the increase necessary to maintain that mission. And to grant them the courage to continue despite the obstacles the Enemy is continually throwing their way.
We are all in this battle together, so long as we battle under the ensign of the Lord. The enemy continues to throw all his forces into one, final and massive counter-attack in the short time he has remaining.
“Zola Levitt Presents” is out there in the trenches with us. And taking the hits just like we are. I respect them enormously for it.
Ministry is supposed to advance the richness of knowing Christ, not increase the riches of His ministers. We are all supposed to be in this to advance the Kingdom — not to advance ourselves.
As Christian warriors, we need to concentrate our resources where they will do the most good. On the efforts to expand the Kingdom and bring Christ to the lost. Not to buy new Rolexes and pay for stretch limos to bring the ‘talent’ to the studio.
I pray that we never lose sight of the REAL prize. And I thank God that there still are others who see things the same way.
Until He comes.