Since I’ve already covered two of the most scurrilous scams that pulpit pimps use to take your money (the “tithe” and “first fruit”), it’s only fitting to end this series with the offering that completes the ponzi scheme “trifecta” – the ever vaulted “love offering”. You can thank reader John 8:32 for inspiring me by providing this juicy little morsel in the comment thread regarding the Pimp of Hampton’s ability to accumulate cash without paying his bills (my emphasis in bold):
…You know, this is a real sad “state of affairs”. Dre’ and his wife are fleecing the sheep for more than $750,000.00 a year, living in a home worth more than 1.4 million, has a Bentley, two Cadillacs, and a Mercedes Benz and can’t or won’t pay a $17,700.00 property tax bill. I wonder if he paid the taxes on the previous mansion he still owns. Oh and I also heard that the new leader of his elite security team, a man trying to be made in Dre’s image, has required his ministry members to not only tithe, but they are also required to give a consistant “love offering”.
Although the logo above is from VH1′s trash reality show “I Love Money” (a show about circus freaks from other trashy reality shows competing in challenges for cash), it might as well be on the doors of your church (as well as the giving envelopes handed out weekly) if your pastor solicits “love offerings”.
Let me be clear – just as I believe that Christians should give generously for the furtherance of the Gospel, I also believe that elders should be compensated with a fair salary (in proportion to their congregation) for their work in the ministry. In his defense of his Apostolic ministry in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul clearly states that he’s worth his wages:
1 Corinthians 9:7-11 (New American Standard Bible)
8I am not speaking these things (C)according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things?
11(H)If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
But before you start “dancing in the aisle” in support of your pimp, Paul also rejects the pursuit of material things in his spreading of the Gospel because he wanted the focus to remain on the Gospel – and not his right to “boast” in it:
1 Corinthians 9:14-18 (New American Standard Bible)
15But I have (D)used none of these things And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make (E)my boast an empty one.
Paul’s point was a valid one – he was worthy of honest wages to support him while spreading the Gospel, but he was not worthy to sell the Gospel to the highest bidder, and therein lies the problem: pulpit pimps “sell” the Gospel and cajole you into giving them a “love offering” to gauge your “love” for them and their labor. In return, you are seen as a “faithful son or daughter”and shown favoritism (in violation of James 2:1-9) above those who sit next to you in the pews who don’t (or can’t) “honor the man/woman of God with their giving”.
It is sad, but fitting: pulpit pimps have bastardized the concepts of prosperity and abundant life to the point that they’ve convinced the sheep that God accepts bribes and doles out His love to them based on their giving. Accordingly (in pimp-sick minds), your gesture of love and support for their ministry can only be manifested in cash, and in turn, the pimp only loves you based on your “gifts” to him. Twisted logic indeed.
So, the pimp opens his bible to one of the few bible verses that he uses to guilt you into giving – Galatians 6:6-8 (“ready, read!”):
Before you know it, the hireling is prancing and preening across the book board, almost crowing:
“If (huh) you wanna obey gawd (huh), then you’ll honor his word (huh). The biiiiiible says (huh), that if you don’t pay the mand of gawd (huh) then you’re mocking him (huh). You don’t wanna mock gawd (huh) do ya?(huh) I said, (singing now) YOOOOUUU don’t wanna mock gawd, do you? (huh). Then open up yo pocket books (huh) and share (huh) with the mand of gawd (huh) that feeds you the word (huh). Say YYYEEEAAHHH”
The problem is that (as usual) the pimp has poorly exegeted this text and used it out of context…again. Galatians 6 is an admonishment from the Apostle Paul about the importance of Christians bearing one another’s burdens. Just as we should be willing to care for the material needs of those around us who are in lack, we should also feel a burden to care for the material needs of the earnest elders who teach and preach the Word – without compromise or games. The call to ministry is a burden – a holy and humbling burden, but a burden nonetheless, and sometimes burdens can cause financial strain on those who answer the call. I have seen preachers who visit the sick (personally), feed the poor (personally), and minister to the needs of others – yet their own families wear time-worn clothes and they stretch a baked chicken for a few days.
Bob Deffinbaugh gave a thorough exegesis of sowing and reaping and Galatians 6:6-18:
In verse 6 Paul does not stress payment for services rendered so much as it does participation in the ministry of the Word of God. There are other passages which deal with the obligation of the church toward those who spend full time in a teaching ministry (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:1-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18; 2 Tim. 2:3-7), but the emphasis never seems to be simply that of looking at a man’s ministry as a job, for which he is to be paid. There is more to it than just money. For example, in 1 Timothy 5:17 the expression “double honor” certainly calls for a generous provision of salary, but the “double honor” of financial provision conveys as well the esteem and appreciation which are elsewhere called for apart from monetary or material goods (e.g. 1 Thes. 5:12-13; 1 Cor. 16:18).
In Galatians 6:6, the verb form of the term “koinonia,” “fellowship” is translated “share.” While “sharing” in a financial or material way is encouraged in the New Testament, it does not normally include the idea of payment, but of mutual participation in ministry with and to other members of the body of Christ (cp. “contributing,” Rom. 12:13; “contribution,” Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 9:13; “sharing,” Heb. 13:16). Thus, the “sharing” of the Philippian church was not merely some kind of payment for Paul’s ministry to them, but a participation in Paul’s ministry to others (cp. Phil. 1:5; 4:15; cf. Matt. 10:40-42). Having “fellowship” materially with those who are in need is a demonstration of our unity and interdependence as members of Christ’s body, the church.
Deffinbaugh goes on to say that every hireling who calls himself (or herself) a teacher doesn’t deserve financial support (my emphasis in bold):
The responsibility here is that of those “who are taught” to those “who teach.” The inference is that we are obligated (in this context, at least, but see also 3 John 5-8) only to those who teach us. Just because a person is a self-proclaimed teacher is no basis for our obligation to him. It is those who have been taught who are obligated to the teacher. Frankly, there are a large number of “teachers” who should not be encouraged because of their shoddy methods and message, even if it is an orthodox one.
So herein lies the problem – the pimp breaks his own arm to pat himself on the back by declaring “you don’t know the gift you have before you”. He even solicits visiting pimps to heap adoration upon him – and to remind you that your pimp “could pastor anywhere in the world, but he has chosen to be used of God for your benefit!”. So the end result is that you are begged (weekly) to “support the vision and the visionary” by giving over and above your tithes and offering.
There’s just one big difference between your pimp and the Apostles who helped grow the early church (and earnest preachers who aren’t pimping the Gospel week after week) - YOUR PIMP LIVES IN A MANSION AND DRIVES A CAR THAT COST MORE THAN YOUR HOUSE! The Apostles literally moved from city to city relying on the care (food, clothings, other items) of the saints – your pimp moves from his driveway to his reserved parking space at the monument to his ego every week. The Apostles didn’t have a substantial salary, benefits package, or the coveted status of tax exempt clergy…YOUR PIMP ENJOYS ALL OF THESE THINGS, AND STILL DEMANDS A “LOVE OFFERING” AS WELL!
Further, despite the demonic prosperity gospel lie that “Jesus was rich…that’s why the soldiers cast lots at the foot of the cross because His clothes were expensive!” and “if Jesus wasn’t rich, then why did he have a treasurer?!?!” - Jesus Himself confirmed His homelessness (Luke 9:58). I could (and probably will) write a 4,000+ word essay (replete with scripture) debunking the “Jesus was rich” myth, but I’ll simply say this: Why would Jesus (THE essence of the Gospel message)not solicit “love offering” for spreading the Gospel – yet His (alleged) mouthpieces routinely do – IN ADDITION TO THEIR EXORBITANT SALARIES? Surely Jesus deserved a few scheckels while traveling here and there spreading His message, but He didn’t even give money to His disciples to go forth in His name.
Yet curiously, your pimp feels the need to guilt you into going over and above your weekly tax to him in order to “show your love”.
How can you honestly give a “love offering” for the care of your minister’s needs when your minister has no need for ANYTHING? Even worse, you honestly believe that he loves you more because you give him money? Sadly, this is a prototypical pimp-prostitute relationship: the prostitute thinks the pimp loves her because she’s a good earner, and the pimp makes her feel special for taking care of him.
The bottom line is this: earnest elders deserve support to help care for the needs of them and their families (through a legitimate salary structure – and free will offering as the Lord leads). If his salary does not meet his needs, then he (like all of us) needs to learn to do more with less – or FIND A JOB THAT MEETS HIS SALARY DEMANDS. If the sheep decide to give the elder a “special offering”, then they should do so as the Lord wills – not under duress or in false allegiance to a thief.
When a pimp rely’s on your weekly love offerings to pay for gas for his new Bentley and his tailored clothing allowance, then he has left “needs” far behind and crossed over into lustfully profane “wants”.
At this point, you already know the drill: unless you enjoy being beat over the head for your last dime, you need to flee these degenerate cut-rate two-bit hustlers and their money-grubbing schemes. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when the pimp is unwilling to help you meet your needs in time of trouble.
He’ll be too busy spending your money at the Mall and the Bentley dealership…meeting his needs.