It’s a rather gauche topic, I’ll admit, but since the Bible broaches the subject of pastoral paydays, I don’t think it wrong that I do the same. Today is payday at Edgewood.
It actually comes every two weeks on Friday (though direct deposit actually gets it to me a day early) and I think I speak for all the staff when I say it’s a rather important day. Payday keeps things running pretty smoothly around our household, and it would be a bummer should it one day stop. So…color me thankful for the 9th chapter of 1 Corinthians, where Paul states clearly that…
“…the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:14 (ESV)
Now, Paul says that he himself does not partake of a “pastoral payday”, and his teaching here is part of a larger argument about demanding rights. As Paul has rejected the right to make a living by the gospel, in the same manner, he asks the Corinthians to be willing to give up their right to eat meat sacrificed to idols as they look out for their weaker brothers.
But in the process, he establishes very clearly that gospel work is worthy of a wage:
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? 1 Corinthians 9:7-11 (ESV)
It leads me to consider what effect this teaching has had on the world. To be sure, many gospel ministers all over the globe are bi-vocational or completely volunteering their time, and for these pastors and gospel workers I am extremely thankful. Their sacrificial labor is a great blessing to the Kingdom of God. But in the plan of God, Paul’s inspired teaching here and elsewhere has empowered the unhindered spread of the gospel all over the world. And through this instruction, missionaries and pastors like me and millions of others have been given the gift of time, so that in response, they might give themselves fully to their work in the harvest fields of the world. Glory to God!
So I’m thankful that 2,000 years ago the Spirit led Paul to explain that God wasn’t really that concerned about muzzling oxen, but muzzling ministers. And I for one, am not muzzled as I seek to preach the gospel and equip the saints for works of service.
And because of this, in the words of the Apostle, I am a plowman…who has plowed in hope. (1 Corinthians 9:10)
Monday, May 18th: 1 Corinthians 10