More than enough
Today we come across so many appeals from various agencies – especially from Christian mission agencies and churches for funds. Sometimes we get calls from their promotional workers soliciting for funds. Even social networking sites like Facebook is not exempt from these kinds of aggressive fund raising. Certainly there are reports from media that these leaders who are aggressive fund raisers are not accountable, also live luxurious and exorbitant lifestyles. Some leaders in US and Singapore were grilled by police officials and punished for economic offences. Some have gone to safe havens so that the law of the land do not cause them trouble.
Contentment is a godly virtue. “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6) When Christian leaders who call themselves as ‘servants of Most High God’ cannot practice self-control and practice contentment; they lose the right to be Shepherds of God’s flock. How much is enough is the question? Many pastors, evangelists, leaders do not have ceiling for their income. An executive in a corporate world or bureaucrat has a fixed income and certain perks. They are eligible for certain packages like medical help or holiday tour…etc. However, many Christian leaders do not have the package spelt out. The board or trustees do not have say in these matters.
Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:6,7) Apart from Moses I wonder if there were many leaders who could restrain people from giving? Certainly there were leaders, but they were miniscule minority.
People were willing
Moses gave a call (appeal) to donate for the building of the Tabernacle of the Lord. The Children of Israel who were delivered from Egyptian slavery were willing to give liberally. The generosity of the former slaves is amazing. For 400 years they were living in Egypt and they became bond slaves with no remuneration. But, God allowed them to receive gifts from Egyptian neighbour just before were brought out of Egypt. Normally, people who endured such oppression and poverty would love to get richer and retain riches. However, the Children of Israel showed a remarkable character of being generous.
Moses was accountable
Moses did not exploit the generosity of the people. Their generosity was towards God and not towards his leadership. Exploiting their generosity means, Moses was robbing or looting God. Moses made himself accountable to God and God’s people. He was transparent. All the Israelites knew how much was donated and how it was spent. The testimony about Moses is that he was faithful in all God’s house. (Hebrews 3:2)
Public property and private asset
Moses did not convert the public money into private asset. There are many Christian leaders who have converted the money, property and assets created by the liberal donations of the People of God into private assets. They float an organization which is registered with the Government with kith and kin in the leadership. All resources and assets are controlled by a small group of people and they are not accountable to the People of God. There are institutions that have been privatized or become family property; there are lands that belonged to the People of God (Church) been sold; even properties of NGOs being sold to land sharks.
Did not receive more than they deserve
Moses did not receive more than he deserved. He limited himself to that of one of citizens of the nation Israel. He deserved to be paid like the of Prince of Egypt as he grew up as one. Nehemiah also could have received a salary befitting a Governor, but opted to receive much below his deserved status. Ministry and Mission is to follow the Incarnation Model of stepping down from the exalted status to a lower status. Lord Jesus set aside the glory and throne to become servant. However, today ministries have become Step UP stone rather than opportunity and privilege to serve. It is no wonder many fall into scandals and are exposed by secular media.
Christians should display their godliness by leading a content life. Being content means to be stewards of all God given resources. Being content means, not to upgrade the gadgets every year; not replacing cars every season; updating fashion accessories now and then; not comparing with possessions of others and adopting them. If Christian leaders are not examples, then, how can they lead the flocks with integrity?
One of the verses that is often quoted out of context is Phil 4:13. It should be read with the previous verse: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:12,13) Paul states that he knows the secret of being content in all circumstances, for that he needs inner strength and stamina, and that is available in Lord Jesus Christ. To be strong in the Lord means to be content in all circumstances. How many of us have this kind of strength?