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