Lately, National discourse has centered on the scourge of corruption and the need to hold public officials to account. There has been a growing call for a new era in which people will be required to provide explanation and justification for the amount of wealth in their possession.
We are a country where people who have been civil/public servants all their lives, have never won the lottery, or come into a large inheritance; suddenly turn up as billionaires – sometimes dollar denominated.
While it is sad that over time, our society has come to honour such people with unexplainable wealth, it is sadder still that even in the church, rather than raise eye brows, such wealth instead helps to procure ecclesiastical titles.
The question once arose at a bible study I attended as to whether the church should be bothered by the sources of monies that members bring as donation. It hurt that many believed that the church shouldn’t be concerned whether stolen money was brought to the altar as offering. Some even felt that even if the member was discovered to have stolen the money (as was the case with one Sheraton staff who stole millions from his employer to give to his church), the church should not return the money.
Apparently, many erroneously believe that the altar will sanctify the stolen money and make it acceptable to God. Sorry, the blood of Jesus can cleanse any sin, but it cant launder stoelen money.
Here’s a principle of the law that makes clear that an offering is only as acceptable as it’s source.
Haggai 2:13-14 AMP
Then said Haggai, If one who is [ceremonially] unclean because he has come in contact with a dead body should touch any of these articles of food, shall it be [ceremonially] unclean? And the priests answered, It shall be unclean. [Unholiness is infectious.] Then answered Haggai, So is this people and so is this nation before Me, says the Lord; and so is every work of their hands, and what they offer there [on the altar] is unclean [because they who offer it are themselves unclean].
The priests in this account did not mince words. Their clear counsel was; If the person bringing the offering is unclean, the offering itself is unclean because “unholiness is infectious”. In other words, if a thief were to bring some money to church, it is unclean money.
Now someone might say, “oh! The strictures of the law are too demanding and no one could meet them”. The truth however is that, Grace does not lower God’s standard of holiness. In fact, it raises the standard because to whom much is given, much is required.
And so Jesus teaching about giving said…
Matthew 5:23-24 AMP
So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.
Do you see how much more higher the requirement of grace is compared to that of the law. Under the law as under grace, gifts brought to the altar are not acceptable if he who brings the gift is not acceptable.
With regard to those who make a living from using their position to enrich themselves at the expense of citizens, they are simply thieves and their offerings, no matter how large, and no matter how much the pastor froths in the mouth as he prays over it are simply not acceptable to God.