Flexibility to reach all!
Scripture reading for August 14th: 1st Corinthians 9:1-19
Paul’s discussion of liberty addressed another question. Does a preacher of the Gospel have a right to support from those who he reaches out to? Money issues caused trouble in Paul’s time and he again addressed this sensitive issue by using his own ministry as an example.
Some in Corinth were critical of Paul and others who preached the Gospel. They had accused them of doing ministry just for support. They looked at ministry as an easy way to make a living off the hard work of others. Paul cited two different examples to justify the right of those in ministry to receive support.
First he used the soldier who fights for the nation. Does the soldier provide for his own expenses? No! The government provides for him and supplies what he needs. Next he used the farmer who had a vineyard or the man who tended a flock of sheep or goats. Does the one who does this have a right to the produce, meat, and milk? Yes! “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?” (1st Corinthians 9:11) The same principle applies to the one who is sowing spiritually. It is simple to understand and the principle is written in the Law of Moses in simple terms: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” (Deuteronomy 25:4)
But Paul, himself, chose not to use these rights to support. He chose to preach without charge to insure that money issues would not give anyone an excuse to reject the Gospel. (1st Corinthians 9:12) He was not boasting now to manipulate them to give. Paul felt that God had given him a trust in the Gospel message. His reward was to be able to preach without charge.
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1st Corinthians 9:19) Paul’s heart was to reach as many as possible with the Gospel message. He was willing to work with his own hands making tents to provide for his own needs to be able to preach to them. Even though he had a God-given right to support, he refused it to obtain a bigger harvest. Would that we all had such a heart for lost people!