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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 67

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James 5:1–6

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

They should remember that riches have been given to bishops as offerings for the administration and advantage of the churches, as the rule states: “The benefice is given because of the office.” Therefore, they cannot possess these offerings with a good conscience while fleecing the Church, which has need of these resources for supporting ministers, providing education, caring for the poor, and establishing courts—especially for marital cases. The matrimonial controversies are so great in variety and extent that a special tribunal is needed, but which may only be established with the endowments of the Church.

Peter predicted that there would be godless bishops who would abuse the offerings of the Church for luxury, and neglect the ministry. Therefore let those who defraud the Church know that they will pay God the penalty for this crime.

Pulling It Together

It is bad enough when the person outside the church swindles people so that he may live in excess. When leaders of the church of God do this to the very ones whom the Lord has called them to serve, it is nothing short of an obscene blotch on the character of the whole church. Other leaders must step in, if only to do what is right. Yet there are other good reasons even for doing the right thing. Mission. Education. The poor among us. How can these things move forward when some keep for themselves the resources given the church? This is not a charge to be leveled only at bishops or pastors. Congregations are notorious for keeping the Lord’s resources for themselves, for that stormy day they fear so much. They do well to fear, for the Lord promises they will pay for their transgressions.

Prayer: Give me courage to rely on you, Lord, so that I may be a benefit to my neighbor. Amen.

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