Jeremiah 22:13-14 reads, “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.”
The Biblical principle of these verses is true in any situation. The “woe” of our Lord God’s fierce wrath and judgment is upon any individual who (1) builds up his own situation by unrighteousness, (2) uses another’s service without paying wages, and (3) builds up how own situation for self glory. In the immediate context of Jeremiah 22, these verses had direct application to the case of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah. (See Jeremiah 22:15-19) At that time King Jehoiakim sought to build up his own situation with the motive of covetousness and through the manner of oppression. (See Jeremiah 22:17) Therefore, the Lord pronounced the woe of judgment upon him, wherein he would lose absolutely everything that he sought to build up for himself. (See Jeremiah 22:18-19)
However, as I meditated upon these verses, a different application of the Biblical principle was brought to mind. This application concerns pastor’s who seek to build up their own situation in the ministry for their own glory. As a pastor (or any other form of leader in the ministry), are you seeking to build up your ministry situation by the carnal methods of the flesh, rather than by the divine power of the Holy Spirit? If so, then our Lord God’s woe is pronounced against you. As a pastor (or any other form of leader in the ministry), are you using your neighbor’s service for the Lord “without wages” by stealing sheep from another’s ministry? If so, then our Lord God’s woe is pronounced against you. As a pastor (or any other form of leader in the ministry), are you building up a ministry with the selfish motive of covetousness, for your own glory, rather than for the Lord’s glory? If so, then our Lord God’s woe is pronounced against you.
At the approach of the new year, such questions may be quite appropriate for each pastor (or other form of leader in the ministry) to consider. My fellow laborers in the ministry, let us examine ourselves.