Micah V

               5 Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare   war against him who puts nothing into their mouths.

               6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them;

              7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.

              8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and   with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.

The spiritual leaders of Judah had led them astray. Rather than teaching them nation right from wrong, the guild of prophets set the Law aside in quest of materialistic interest. If someone paid them well then the prophet would tell them what they wanted to hear. Conversely, if someone would not compensate the prophet then he would create problems for that person. In the end, the prophets’ materialism jeopardized the ruined spiritual state of Judah.

As a principle, spiritual leaders should not be given over to materialism. Materialism is a religion in itself that gives undue importance and devotion to material interests.[1] In the case of Judah’s spiritual leaders, materialism became their master enticing “them into doing things they should not have.”[2] The truth of the matter is “no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Mt. 6:24). Unfortunately, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” that beguiles people away from their faith in God (cf. 1 Tim. 6:9-10). One way of determining which is one’s master is to reflect on what occupies more of one’s thoughts, time, and pursuits.[3]

There are antidotes for materialism. For instance, acknowledging that only God’s ownership is absolute is an ideal place to arrest the “tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.”[4] Humans are merely stewards of God’s property. One will more than likely share what his or her resources with others from this managerial frame of mind. Moreover, God expects those whom He has entrusted with much to wisely distribute His resources among to the poor. Hence, one way of overcoming materialism is surrendering notion that one is entitled to or sole owner of the assets in their possession.[5]

 

Another antidote is to train one’s mind to focus more on things of heaven than of world (cf. Col. 3:2). In truth, one of the relentless spiritual struggle inherent to Christianity is acclimating to fact that the world’s value system is antagonistic to heaven’s. The conflict is temporal but has its origins in a spiritual realm. On the one hand, there is Satan and his team set on distracting us from God and attempting to robbing us of eternal life. On the other hand, there is God who has provided Christians with everything they need to triumph over Satan (cf. Eph. 6:10-13). Christians are exhorted to die to themselves, surrendering ephemeral worldly desires and ambitions, in order to gain eternal life in Christ. The world is passing away (cf. Rev 18:9-10, 21:1). The only things that will translate into the new heaven and new earth are our faith, character, and “relationships with other believers.”[6] Prayerfully, this outlook will serve to remedy ungodly perspectives in regards to material goods.

Another principle, with respect to spiritual leadership, is that pastors and ministers must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in order to witness effectively. Micah’s reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit imbued his ministry with authority, justice, and might. The same power is available to the Church at large (cf. Acts 1:8). To be sure, the momentous undertaking that God has commissioned to pastors and ministers can only be shouldered in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the God-head Trinity that consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When Jesus ascended to heaven He promised to send believers the Holy Spirit to spiritually empower them in their work. During the age of the Old Testament the Holy Spirit enabled select individuals to carry out specific assignments (cf. Gen. 41:38-39; Num. 11:16-17; Judg. 13:24-25; 1 Sam. 16:3). However, in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is present with everyone submitted to the lordship of Christ. Truly, the work of God cannot be done in one’s own strength. All new covenant ministers must rely on Holy Spirit’s power to effectively “tell others what God has done for them,” which involves “courage, boldness, confidence, insight, ability, and authority.[7]

[1] Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, [Accordance electronic ed., version 1.4], (Springfield, MA: C. & G. Merriam Co., 1913), s.v. “materialism.”

[2] Barton et al., eds., The Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation, 27.

[3] Ibid., 1551-1552.

[4] New Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. “Materialism.”

[5] Ibid., 194.

[6] Barton et al., eds., The Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation, 2196.

[7] Bruce B. Barton and Grant R. Osborne, eds., Life Application Commentary: Acts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1999), 8-9.