Linda Wood Rondeau

Preparing the Sacrifice

MODERN MONEY CHANGERS
Monday, March 18, 2024 by Linda Wood Rondeau

 

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.3 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’” Matthew 21:11-13 (NIV).

I’ve often wondered what riled the Lord at the temple that day. I’m certain he’d witnessed similar scenes throughout Jerusalem and in other holy places during his three years of ministry. They weren’t doing anything illegal. Yet, Jesus referred to them as thieves.

This was Passover week. The city was packed with sojourners coming to Jerusalem, to the spectacular edifice built by Herod, and to celebrate the occasion. Many, no doubt, did not have a requisite animal to sacrifice. Perhaps they lacked clean clothing. Or they needed provisions. The temple merchants were taking advantage of their needs, offering inflated prices for convenience to their customers.

The practice of gouging and inflating prices is still prevalent today. Especially in a nation that flourishes with those who are opportunists.

Even in the church

convenience comes with a high price tag.

I thought about Jesus’s attitude toward money.

First of all, he refused Satan’s offer of power and wealth. “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Matthew 4:3. Service to God was above filling his belly.

He also knew he’d need financial resources for His ministry. God provided Him with followers who generously gave out of shared vision and/or gratitude. Never do we see Him pass the offering plate around or offer “freebies” in exchange for information.

I am often baffled that Jesus, knowing Judas would eventually betray Him, promoted Him to the keeper of the purse. Wouldn’t Matthew have been better qualified? Jesus knew Judas would embezzle money from the ministry, yet assigned Him anyway. Why? Whatever the reason, financial gain was not fundamental to Christ’s decisions for His ministry.

What does this have to do with our call to write?

We have a responsibility to our publishers to ensure our work is successful. For our publishers, that translates to dollars and cents. Often, we may feel squeezed between our desire to please God and to be diligent in our obligations to our publishers.

Unfortunately, for many … I include myself in this … we have looked to the world’s wisdom rather than our dependence upon the Lord who knows exactly what we need, how much we need, and when we are in need.

In recent years, I have heard much emphasis on “monetizing” our gifts. Finding ways to increase our incomes through appealing to the vanity of the masses, and marketing to the appetites and needs of those whom God has called us to serve.

God reminds me:

Yes. We need resources to continue our ministry.

God knows this. If He has called, He provides.

For some, living hand to mouth is unpalatable. We follow the wisdom of the world in monetizing our writing products or services. We fall victim to those ever-increasing videos of how someone started getting six-figure incomes without doing any work. Wouldn’t it be nice to earn a little extra to take a vacation? Why shouldn’t I be rewarded for my hours of endeavor? we ask ourselves.

We have put ourselves into the purse, our desires and worries on how to feed our families, ahead of trust in God’s provision.

Consequently, we are driven toward competition. We want to be sure our books are number one on Amazon. We want to receive the most likes, reviews, and shares on our Social Media platforms. We are driven to round up an ever-increasing audience and to expand our visibility.

These are not immoral or illegal thoughts. How can this be thievery?

Jesus said, “My house shall be called a place of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves.”

The emphasis on these businessmen became the trade of material goods rather than the worship of the Lord.

Author, consider your works. What drives your actions? Worry? Desire? Pride? These not only rob us of a closer walk with God, but they filter into the work of our hands … writing for profit rather than witness. 

Lord, help us to remember your purposes and to trust you for the resources to do the work for the audience you have called us to reach.

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