Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Minister’s Right (1 Corinthians 9:3-12)

"Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit?" (1 Cor. 9:7b)

Having proved his apostleship, Paul defends his right to be supported by the churches. Many people in that day, as in modern times, believed that those who have been called to serve the church should earn their own wages. This, however, is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, as Paul goes on to prove. But even in something as clear as being supported by the church, Paul did not enforce his right. For the sake of the Gospel, he did everything humanly possible to remove stumbling blocks out of the way of those who heard him preach. If his receiving support from the church would cause some to be prejudiced against the Gospel, he would forsake this right. Thus, Paul by a sacrificial example, showed how one should give up his own rights and liberties for the sake of others, not only in the eating of meat, but in receiving support.

Yet, despite Paul’s decision not to accept support from the church at Corinth, he did not back down from defending his right and the right of others in the ministry to receive support. Does a farmer not eat of his labor? Does a soldier go to war at his own expense? Of course not. Neither, then, should a minister toil at his own expense. He should eat the labor of his hands, which is the church. It is the church’s duty and privilege, therefore, to support those who have been called by God. To refuse to support ministers of the Gospel is to muzzle them, to inhibit them, to cause them to be hampered by the concerns of the world and be tempted to neglect the concerns of the church. Therefore, for the sake of the church it is right for ministers to be cared for, that they might be free to minister without the burden of worldly concerns.

The reception of support is the right of those who have been called, just as it is their right to become married if they wished. Paul emphasizes this fact in verses 5–6: “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” If Paul had wanted to marry, he had that right, but as in the case of eating meats and of support, Paul refused that right so he would have more freedom to proclaim the Gospel.

To what extent do you support your minister by giving to the church? Do you help support a minister or missionary of the Gospel in another capacity? Consider this teaching and give first to your own church and then to others in ministry. Encourage your children, teaching them early to give their own money.