It was a cold night but my pace in the fresh, deep snow was slow, very slow. I was thoroughly unhappy. I was cold, but I didn’t care. All I had wanted the past few years was to serve the Lord full time instead of filling my days with working at my trade. So I stepped out in (what I thought was) faith.
I have said that one of the conditions for successful christianity is to be lead by the Spirit. I was, at that time in my christianity, not lead by the Holy Spirit but by god reason and god intellect and also by religious ambitions. My stupidity costs me immensely and put real hardship on my family. And now I was dejected and disillusioned.
I was headed to Richard’s house. Richard was an elder brother and my best friend. Richard would have an encouraging word. The walk to his place was maybe 25 minutes. When I got there I could see he had out-of-town company. So I turned around and headed home.
Then the Lord spoke to me. It had been a long time. He quoted from Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received, freely give.” Pardon me! Freely give what? I had nothing to give so how could I give freely? I was deep into self-pity needing comforting and encouragement, but the Lord ‘changed the subject’.
Nonetheless I heeded those words. I vowed I would never charge for my written material or christian service. Not that I had much of either to give. Perhaps one day I would.
To date I have never sold. I have given freely and will so continue.
Years later I heard a preacher say that “freely” in Matthew 10:8 doesn’t mean without charge, it means liberally. Have you heard that one, my brother? I didn’t pay much attention, assuming he was simply justifying his salary and book sales. But then, lately, I heard it the second time…. “freely” doesn’t mean without without charge; it means liberally or bountifully.
Had I been wrong all these years? So I checked every translation I could find. They all said ‘without charge’ (or its equivalent). I checked Strong’s concordance. The word freely is dorean, #c1432, meaning, “as a gift…. gratis…. without a cause…. for nought…. freely”.
Seems like all those dozens of translators knew what they were doing. “Freely” means without charge. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge (dorean).”
‘Bible-believing’ evangelicals sell books and services and teachings and music and concerts and seminars and…. everything. It’s like Jesus never said, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
This marketing of spiritual goods isn’t done slyly, “in a corner”, but openly for all to see. Books and concerts and films and many etceteras are marketed, the merchandizers having much in common with those Jesus chased out of the temple. (“You have made it a den of thieves.”) Millions of pastors worldwide sell their services; if they weren’t salaried they wouldn’t be there.
Can you see that if freely really means freely, corruption and disobedience is thoroughly entwined throughout evangelicalism?
Jesus: “A tree is known by its fruit.” Religion is known by its fruit. Evangelicalism is known by its fruit.
If you think it’s easy to give one’s material freely you’re wrong. Though “Free ain’t cheap!!” it’s considered to be cheap. The world has taught us north americans the higher the price tag the more valuable the product. And yet….
Jesus gave freely (“I lay down My life”). The Father “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”. Paul: “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.” The gospel writers didn’t sell their material. Can we assume Luke never charged Theophilus for his lengthy account? Do you think John got a kickback from the messengers of the seven churches? Did the seventy take a collection after healing the sick?
I mentioned god reason and god intellect and religious ambitions. I have no doubt that somewhere most churches (if not every church) were built by these three culprits. I call reason ‘god’ reason and intellect ‘god’ intellect because they trump both the bible and the “Spirit of truth” in the affairs of religionists.
So why am I saying all this?
I dunno. Perhaps Jesus wants you to see another perspective. Though you have the numbers endorsing your perspective, it is so obvious to me that your perspective does not have the endorsement of Jesus Christ. The bible should be our standard, not beloved “tradition[s] of men”, entrenched though they be. What does your bible say – does anything else matter – about selling spiritual wares? About salaries? About the awful evangelical tithe? About all the evangelical etceteras?
Perhaps “the vinedresser” is pruning the branch “that it may bear more fruit”.
Perhaps the One we both call “Lord, Lord” wants you to release your Bethel from a Jesus-and-us mentality to return to a Jesus-and-me intimacy.
Perhaps Jesus wants to raise another “voice of one crying in the [spiritual] wilderness” urging His people to renounce religion and return to “first love”.
Perhaps Lord Jesus is calling His own back to where they once were (Andrew Murray: “You wandered from him.”) through this open letter.
And perhaps the purpose of this message from Jesus to you is simply none of my business.