When I was young there was a saying: “The captain always goes down with his ship.” It went unsaid that the captain would do everything possible to save all hands from drowning. But times have changed. Recent news stories report on how captains today are sometimes the first to abandon ship in order to save their own skin. That is because they are hirelings.
Actually, “hireling” is not a bad word at all. A hireling just works for a wage – without being fully vested in a major enterprise. God uses the analogy of a hireling for the purpose of showing whose heart is in the right place. Someone who does all the receiving in any relationship is like a hireling. The point is this: As Christians, we have the opportunity to be altruistic and unselfish as Jesus was in laying down His life for all others. Jesus tells the story:
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep.” (John 10:10-13)
Jesus did not leave us or forsake us – but gave His life for us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus tells us that the sheep can be scattered at the hands of a hireling because a hireling’s first concern is not for the sheep. When we look at a minister, we cannot tell just by looking at him if he is a fine pastor or if he is a hireling – because those things are only spiritually discerned.
There was a time in the Church of God when men looked to God and trusted in God to provide. Have you noticed the not so subtle change in what the church organizations are doing today? You would think that their every waking moment would be consumed in preaching the Gospel to all of creation… And that is often what they claim to be doing, when in point of fact; they are busily growing their congregations. Now they would argue that it is first necessary to have the large numbers of members so that they can have the cash to be able to do the work. But for nearly two decades they have not mounted a large scale effort at getting the gospel to the world because they felt that it was necessary to first get their own retirement house in order.
Have they forgotten the precept of stepping out in faith and waiting upon the Lord to furnish the means for the Gospel? Let’s not forget that this is not man’s work but the work of God.
“This is the work of God that ye believe on Him [Jesus Christ] whom He [God the Father] hath sent.” (John 6:29)
A hireling is a person who works for material reward instead of devotion to a principle he believes in with all his heart. They send out supposed religious materials, but when they do there are pages and pages of nothing but committee meetings and decisions to be made about title changes for their publications and how to better “get people interested in their own organization." They make a short reference to religious sounding ideas, but in the next paragraph they go back to discussing yet another committee to be set up to determine which way to look best to possible newcomers.
They believe that if their sales pitch is the best and most colorful, people will respond and become Christians. Brethren, it does not work that way. Not one person has ever been “talked” into becoming a true Christian. The Truth of God need not be embellished. It is God who touches the receptive heart.
Certainly there is a job for preachers to do. The Gospel must be preached to the world so that those whom God will call can respond to the Truth.
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
But, let’s be clear: It is not the preachers who grow the church membership. It is God, Himself, who gives the increase and adds to the Church (1 Corinthians 3:6).
“The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)