Sermons

Summary: Pastors and teachers are appointed to serve Christ and His churches. They lovingly tend His flock without thought of personal enrichment.

“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.’”

“When the apostle departs, he should receive nothing but bread until he finds his next lodging. But if he requests money, he is a false prophet… Not everyone who speaks forth in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he has the kind of behaviour which the Lord approves. From his behaviour, then, will the false prophet and the true prophet be known. And every prophet who, in the spirit, orders a table to be spread shall not eat therefrom; but if he does, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who has met the test—who is genuine—and who performs a worldly mystery of the church but does not teach others to do what he is doing, he shall not be judged by you. For he has his judgement with God—for the ancient prophets also did similarly. And whoever says in the spirit, ‘Give me money,’ or anything else, do not listen to him. But if he says that it should be given for others who are in need, let no one judge him” [Quoted from THE DIDACHE 11:6, 8-12].

While not Scripture, THE DIDACHE, a Christian writing also known by the longer title, THE TEACHING OF THE LORD TO THE GENTILES BY THE TWELVE APOSTLES, was highly respected among the ancient churches. The words of that book reach back to a time within a hundred years of the passing of the last Apostle. What is written therein provides insight into the practises of the ancient church which was even then undergoing severe persecution sanctioned by highest officials within the Roman Empire. What is interesting for the purpose of this message and in relation to the passage before us, is the teaching that a prophet, or an apostle, was to eschew money for the ministry he provided.

Itinerating servants of the Master were to follow the practise Jesus established. You need only recall that when Jesus sent out the twelve, He gave specific instructions concerning recompense for their labour. We read the account provided in Luke’s Gospel. “[Jesus] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.’ And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” [LUKE 9:1-6].

Those whom God has appointed to service—whatever that service may be, are to serve without thought of remuneration. That this is the case is stated multiple times and in multiple ways in the Word of God. Sending out the disciples to serve, Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town” [MATTHEW 10:8-14].

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