Paul takes an interesting turn here. It’s almost as if he’s being a little defensive about his role. I think we can all agree he was definitely an apostle of Jesus, dedicating his life to spreading the gospel message and starting a movement of Christ-followers. It was a treacherous time, yet Paul was committed to the cause.
We might find ourselves facing a similar resistance as followers of Christ. I don’t think it’s my imagination that there seems to be more push back on Christians than ever before. It’s as if a few bad apples have given the whole lot of us a bad rap. Why should we feel like we have to be careful what we say so that we don’t offend someone?
Paul no doubt faced similar things. He didn’t let it stop him, so I appreciate looking to his boldness for encouragement. He also points out the issue of payment. In his day, there wouldn’t be a job category like “Christian preacher” yet, so there would be no salary package or housing allowance. Who was going to pay him and others recruited by God to spread the gospel?
I know many missionaries, even today, must raise their own funds. It’s daunting! I am not good at asking for money, no matter what the reason. But I suppose if there were no food on my table or no roof over my head, I would be figuring out how to make it happen.
This statement of Paul’s resonates with me when I think about asking for support as a missionary. “We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.” It seems like many people associate churches with the “money ask.” I’ve heard people claim that every time they attend church the pastor drones on about needing money for this or for that. Sadly, they are missing the point.
Paul suggests some interesting and creative ways of getting payment. I can’t say that as a pastor’s family we’ve ever lived in a congregant’s home, but we did live in a home provided by the church (parsonage). We have been invited to share meals with countless church members over the years, too. Unless you’re one of those mega church pastors, the pay you receive is usually enough to live on but certainly not in any sort of lavish fashion. Sometimes churches struggle to pay salaries and pastors must supplement their income. We’ve seen it all!
I could turn the tables around and say a congregation member who is being spiritually fed by a pastor should be more than willing to help support them. If nothing else, it’s an honor and a show of gratitude to a pastor for helping us along our faith journey. Why should the pastor have to struggle? They are sharing the best news of all and shouldn’t have to do it for free!
I love how Paul brings this to a close. “In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.” It is always our prayer that our work will touch lives and draw people into a living relationship with Jesus. How we do it looks different now than it has for the past thirty years serving a particular congregation.
How are you supporting your faith leader? If you are the preacher, are you feeling appreciated with the support you are receiving? Do these verses give you the urge to change things up a bit?
Let’s pray …
Father God, thank you for how you have always provided for us. Sometimes I feel a little spoiled that we always have what we need. Forgive me for those times when I wish for or even feel envious of other people’s freedoms because of the money they have. I am forever grateful that you have gifted me as you have. Guide me to be a good steward with what I have been given. In Jesus’ name. Amen.