Sunday, March 26, 2017
Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 9-10
I have studied and taught 1 Corinthians 10 and the subject of Christian Liberty in sermons and devotional posts; however, I confess the subject addressed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 is one I have neglected. Knowing this devotional commentary will be read Sunday, March 26, 2017, I cannot think of a better time to remind the church you have an obligation to the men who will minister before you this day of worship.
Paul had fallen victim to critics who not only questioned his credentials as an apostle, but also his authority over the church (1 Corinthians 9:1-2). In answering his critics, Paul goes a step further and addressed not only his apostleship, but also the material obligations of churches to to their pastors (9:3-14). Paul reasoned that God’s servants have the “power” (lit. the right and authority) of all who labor… “to eat and to drink” (9:4) and to support their families (“to lead about a sister, a wife”; meaning a companion – 9:5).
Continuing his argument on behalf of God’s servants receiving compensation for their labor, Paul reasoned we compensate soldiers when they go to war, farmers eat the fruit of their labor, and shepherds profit from shepherding (9:7). Surely the pastor is worthy of the same!
Moving beyond human portraits of workers receiving just compensation for their labor, Paul challenged believers that the Law demands that servants of God receive a fair compensation for their labor (9:8-9; Deuteronomy 25:4).
1 Corinthians 9:9 – “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?”
What is the application of 1 Corinthians 9:9? Because God is concerned with the fair treatment of oxen, there is no doubt He is particularly concerned about the welfare of His servants (9:10). Taking that truth to its conclusion, Paul admonished believers they are debtors to those who minister to them spiritually and under material obligation to minister to their physical needs (9:11). 1 Corinthians 9:12 indicate the believers in Corinth had given to meet the needs of others who ministered in the church; although Paul had not asked the same of the church. In case the Corinthian church were tempted to practice the same lack of support toward other ministers, Paul reminded them how priests who ministered in the Temple received a portion of the sacrifices as compensation for their families (9:13; Leviticus 6:14-7:36; 27:6-33).
Principle – God has ordained in both the Old Testament and New Testament that His servants should be supported and fairly compensated for their labor (9:14).
Sadly, many church members give little thought to the personal sacrifices and needs of their ministers. If you believe “the labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7), you should see to it that your pastor(s) is fairly compensated and financially secure.
Paul takes that principle a step further when he writes, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).
How about it, does your pastor deserve a raise?
* Note from the author of “Heart of A Shepherd” – Please accept my apology for my devotional commentary posts being somewhat erratic this past week. I am back home and looking forward to being back in my daily routine.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith