Is This The Time to Take Money?

But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? (2 Kings 5:26).

Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, had a big leprosy problem. A servant girl shared good news with his wife that Elisha would heal him. So, Naaman searched for the prophet and took along 750 pounds of silver (worth approximately $230,000), 150 pounds of gold (worth approximately $4.2 million), and ten new outfits. Elisha didn’t even come to the door but sent him to wash seven times in the Jordan. Naaman was offended but his servant finally convinced him to obey the prophet and he was miraculously healed. Naaman was so grateful, he rushed back to thank Elisha with silver and gold, but Elisha refused his gifts and sent him home.

Gehazi believed that Elisha had let Naaman off too easy, so he chased after this major donor to ask for a gift for himself. Gehazi shared a cover story about needing seventy-five pounds of silver and some new clothes for two young prophets. Naaman joyfully gave him twice as much as he asked. Gehazi hurried back, stashed the loot in his tent, then went to work like nothing had happened. Elisha caught him red-handed. Unfortunately, all too often, someone in Christian ministry gets caught embezzling funds. How can you protect your heart against greed? Consider these three safeguards:

“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Like many in ministry, Gehazi felt underpaid and undervalued, so he took matters into his own hands. You’ll never get paid what you’re worth—or so you think. The defense against covetousness is contentment. Paul “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12). Have you learned the secret of contentment?

It’s not wrong to be compensated fairly for your work. “The worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). Paul instructed, “the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor” (Galatians 6:6). Elisha could have taken a gift, but he was more concerned about Naaman’s spiritual growth than his own financial needs. He didn’t want Naaman to be confused by thinking he could pay for God’s grace.

Financial audits usually catch embezzlers, but Gehazi’s sin was asking for his own benefit and taking advantage of the donor’s generosity. This greed is much harder to detect. As a fundraiser, you have the privilege of befriending many wealthy people. One can easily become envious of their lifestyle. Always put the interests of your ministry above your own. Don’t ask for yourself.

Response: Father, please forgive me for being discontent with my wages (Luke 3:14).

Think About This: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). The results of greed are not worth the price. Gehazi was struck down with Naaman’s leprosy. Guard your heart!

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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