Thursday, September 04, 2008
Passion Over Paycheck
Teaching a class on 1 Corinthians 9 is a true "double edged sword." It's nice to point out to everyone how clearly Paul taught that those in full time ministry should be financially supported by those they serve. He doesn't just make the point in passing, he used multiple illustrations to pound home his right to expect support. "If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?" (vs.11) Just in case his logic isn't proof enough he adds, "...the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel." (vs.14) Preach on Paul!
The other side of the sword is the "ouch" part. He didn't want them to pay him and he never let them. This speaks to passion over paycheck. "I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (vs.16) It's not a job but a journey, a calling, a mission, a life of devotion to the One who devoted His life for us! But I like getting a salary, and my brethren have always been wonderful about taking care of me and my family. I think I've asked for a raise one time in thirty-five years and that was decades ago. I've never moved to increase my salary. So, how-much-am-I-compelled-to-preach??? Regardless of the "material harvest" I reap?
I believe it's total - but I don't want to have to find out. I know that I will never do anything to hurt the body of Christ. I plan to preach until my last breath is expelled from my lungs. I won't compromise the truth to protect my income. I am thankful to be blessed with financial support for my ministry, but it must not control me, drive me, and define me.
I was stunned by something Paul said in chapter 9 that I hadn't paid much attention to before. After clearly declaring his right to reap - he said, "But we did not use this right." Get this, "On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ." (vs.12) Anything? Yes, even a well deserved salary. Ouch - again. Ministry without integrity is mercenary. Ministry with integrity is - well, what it's supposed to be. I must be willing to do "anything rather than hinder the gospel." That's my plan - and I'm sticking to it.