We’re continuing our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. We’re at the point where Paul is discussing his role as an apostle of Christ. This is within the greater context of the principles surrounding the “grey areas” of sin.
This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
1 Corinthians 9:3-6
He makes it clear that because of his ministry to the church, he should expect to be supported by those churches. He shows this by comparing his ministry to others that they knew of.
This was the practice of the day. Apostles and ministers were given some sort of income. It could have been monetary, food, lodging, or other things that they needed.
Paul explains that this is only common sense. If you work, you should be making your living from that work.
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?
1 Corinthians 9:7
I think that it’s interesting to hear the words that Paul uses. Nobody serves, plants, or tends without expecting to make a living from it. These are all a big part of church work. Why do some people think it’s so wrong for ministers to make a living from their ministry?
Paul shows that the Bible itself proves his point.
Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.
1 Corinthians 9:8-10
Paul uses this Old Testament law to bring out a New Testament truth. Ministers are worthy of being supported. The apostle concludes this by using a very clear statement.
If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
1 Corinthians 9:11-12
We want our ministers and pastors to be there for us. We want them to pray for us when we’re in trouble, visit us when we’re sick, and encourage us when they preach. Yet in many churches, they want all this and more while the minister has to work extra jobs just to feed his or her family.
There are others we look to in this way. We want the Fire, Police, and hospitals to be ready to serve us at a moment’s notice. So we pay their salaries accordingly. How much more should we support those who keep watch over our souls?
Question: How have you been helped by a minister who was there in your time of need?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi