By John Gipson
From the way the apostle Paul used the word “peddler,” it seems apparent that in the Mediterranean world of the first century the peddler had a reputation for cheating and misrepresentations in order to secure some benefit for himself.
Sincerity was not high on the huckster’s list. He was prepared to say anything to make a sale. For example, there is the story of the oft-fooled bald-headed man who asked the peddler, “Can you prove this is a good hair-restorer?” To which the peddler replied, “One lady customer took the cork out of the bottle with her teeth and twenty-four hours later she had a mustache!” So much for sincerity!
Some folks are willing to say almost anything if it works to their advantage. It reminds me of the two years I spent in collegiate debating. One day I would be arguing for the proposition and the next day against it. You were out to win the debate no matter whether you believed what you were saying or not.
The apostle Paul was not that sort of person. In writing to the Corinthians, he said, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17 RSV).
Many, unlike Paul, were “peddlers of God’s word.” They were lovers of self and lovers of money, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Paul calls them “men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith,” and men “teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach.” Their tribe is still alive and well in the 21st century. Avoid them! Read the warnings in 2 Timothy 3:1-29 and Titus 1:10-12.
Give us men of sincerity! Men who can say, ‘Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,’ we too believe, and so we speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).
-John Gipson, Little Rock , AR; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com