by Carol Tharp, MD
Taking money per hour or per session to supposedly “care for the brethren” suggests a heart similar to that of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8 to whom Peter said, “Thy money perish with thee”(8:20). Or it suggests a heart like that of Balaam to whom people came “with the rewards of divination in their hand” (Numbers 22:7) and about whom Jude warned when he spoke of those who “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward,” for “whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1:11,13).
John tells us in 1 John 3:16-18:
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
What a contrast to those who charge a fee for personal ministry among believers! Hebrews 13:1,2 says: “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Again, this is not a call for fee-for-service counseling.
So in laying that base, I don’t mean to urge upon you a legalism beyond Scripture where you cannot receive a gift from a grateful family. But the situation in the church today of a fee for a counseling session and the certification of professionals to perform such would never be seen in a church faithful to Scripture. So-called biblical principles are not to be used as some sort of means to an end or tools for success. Using Scripture in such a way is characteristic of witchcraft and alchemy and brings certain condemnation by a holy and sovereign Creator. Jesus, the Word of Life, is the End—the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. Jesus the Word is never to be used as a means. Think on this; it is not a light matter.
Keeping people out of the clutches of the psychotherapy industry does not justify charging a fee for counseling; it changes everything when you do that. Do keep them out of the industry whenever possible, but do not make money doing so. Caring for others will cost you in time, money, and inconvenience. To reach out to your brother in trouble in today’s world can place you at risk for lawsuits, calls from angry family members, dirty gossip, and all sorts of discomfort. However, if you believe the many verses like Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” then you will find real strength from God, great growth in understanding from Him, and even life itself.
[Excerpted from a recent talk]