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I Have the Right…

In First Corinthians, Paul explains to the church that as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, he has the right to ask them for support.  Those who work in the ministry should receive their living from that ministry.

Having laid that foundation, he now makes a very astounding statement.

But I have not used any of these rights.  And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me.  I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.
1 Corinthians 9:15

Paul makes it clear that he absolutely had the right to ask them for support.  But, by his own choosing, he did not ask them for it.  He also wants them to understand that he’s not telling them this to manipulate them into sending him something.

There were some important reasons for this decision.  Paul knew the controversy that his ministry stirred up in the church at Corinth.  It was a church of many factions.  They argued over whether Paul was an apostle or not.

Because of this, he decided not to ask them for support.  He didn’t want to be the cause of strife in the body of Christ.

Of course, that didn’t let the Corinthian church off the hook.  They were called by God to support Paul, even if he didn’t ask for it.  So there were blessings and rewards that they’ll never receive because of their disobedience.

Paul was able to do this because of the position he was in.  Firstly, we know from Acts, chapter 18, that Paul had a trade that he could fall back on.  He was a tentmaker.  Besides that, we know from 2 Corinthians 11:7-12, that Paul was supported by other churches while he ministered in Corinth.

He was able to minister freely in Corinth because God was supplying his need from elsewhere.

Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.  What then is my reward?  Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.
1 Corinthians 9:16-18

This is the attitude of a true minister of the Gospel.  It’s unfortunate that many in the church use it to hold back support to those who need it.

A true minister is called to preach.  They’ll do it for Christ’s sake.  They’ll do it no matter how hard a church makes it for them to survive.

As a pastor and traveling minister, I understand this.  When God places a message in my spirit, I can’t help but preach it.  I serve Christ, not the church.

There have been times that I knew God wanted me to preach in a certain church.  I obeyed.  Then, whether by oversight or decision, I received no offering from them.  Am I going to be bitter or complain about it?  Absolutely not!  God pays my salary.  Whoever He uses to support me is up to him, not me.

On the other side of the coin, I don’t want to be found guilty of not supporting the Lord’s servants.  If I’m a member of a church, then I want that pastor or minister to be abundantly supplied.  I want their ministry to be a joy, not a constant struggle to survive.

This is an issue that many churches need to come to grips with.  They think that it’s their responsibility to keep their pastor in poverty.  It may not be until the Judgment Seat of Christ that the church board finds out what their greed and desire for control has cost them.

We need to support those in ministry as the Lord leads us to.

Question: Why is it better if the minister is not struggling to provide an income?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in God's Provision, Ministry, The Church

 

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Ministry Support

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

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Cain – Offerings and Relationship

Fake MoneyI’m looking at the life of Cain and how he speaks to our modern worship of God. In my last post we saw that he loved God and brought Him an offering. Unfortunately, God didn’t accept the offering.

…but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:5

As a result, Cain’s emotions were stirred up and he became upset. But do we really understand him or what he was going through?

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Genesis 4:6-7

I believe that these verses are the key to understanding Cain. I see some things that are happening here that sometimes get overlooked because we’re so familiar with the story.

First, I see that God loved Cain. The Lord wanted the best for him. I see it by the way God talks to Cain. God speaks to him as a father would speak to a son.

I also see that Cain had a great deal of respect for God. He didn’t have an angry outburst or talk back to Him. I think that speaks volumes especially since some of the Old Testament prophets – Moses and Elijah, just to name a couple – talked back to God in their anger.

The fact is that in all our dealings with God, He knows what’s in our hearts. There’s no way around that. It was the same in this encounter with Cain. God spoke to the real issue.

God told Cain that if you do right, you’ll be accepted – which literally means promoted or exalted. So what was Cain really looking for? He wanted acceptance from God.

That surprised me more than anything. Cain’s goal was a relationship with God.

Even more than that – Cain talked with God, and God talked with him. They had conversations together. Think about it. Wouldn’t you want a relationship like this with God?

I came to the conclusion that Cain was a great guy! If he showed up at our church, we would love him. He would worship and sing right along with us. He would look and act no different than anyone else attending our service. And that’s what concerns me.

It’s also why Cain was so upset. He wanted to show his love to God through an offering, yet it wasn’t accepted. In effect God was saying, “I love you, Cain, but I cannot accept your offering.”

But God’s statement implies something else. Cain knew the right way to bring an acceptable offering to God. Because if there’s an offering God doesn’t accept – then there must be one that He does accept.

In my next post I’ll talk about exactly why Cain’s offering wasn’t accepted. We’ll need to understand it if we’re going to keep off of his path.

Question: Have you ever been upset at God for something?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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