Chapter 9:1-15 (ESV) - Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.
Question to consider: What are some things we can do as a church to bless faithful pastors?
After answering questions posed by the Corinthians and writing about true Christian liberty being rooted in love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul asked a few questions regarding his right to receive compensation for his ministry to them. All of these questions asked by Paul have obvious, implied answers to them. Paul had every right to earn a living from his full time service to the Corinthians. There is a big difference between this and exploiting the church for personal gain. Paul, however, never asked for a dime because he didn’t want to be accused of this.
Of course, Satan is bent on accusing us for whatever action we take in life because he hates us. So when Paul decided to earn his living by making tents with Priscilla and Aquila, there were those who questioned Paul’s credentials as an apostle. The accusation was that Paul had to make tents because he wasn’t enough of an apostle to earn his living by way of ministry.
I have to say that this is something that frustrates me in the church today. Often the pastors who are the most faithful struggle to care for their families while those who preach outright heresy live in mansions. The faithful pastors generally don’t raise this issue to their flock since they don’t wish to “put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” They are content and will continue to faithfully serve, but I would challenge all Christians to bless their pastors and ease their struggles. Find joy in giving to a ministry that makes disciples. Find joy in using your gifts and talents to serve the church.
Dear heavenly father, we ask that You lead us to churches with pastors who faithfully and accurately preach You word. Please stir up in us a desire to bless those churches with our time and treasure so that they thrive instead of struggle to keep the lights on. Let us not give out of obligation or guilt but in the joy of knowing that Your work is being done in the world. Amen.