Category Archives: Money

“Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Workshop”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 10

The following study is taken in part from my devotional commentary post on the Book of Proverbs dated December 10, 2014.

Today’s study in proverbs features what I will call three “stand alone proverbs” – three proverbial statements of “Uncommon Common Sense” communicating three distinct observations.

Proverbs 10:15  “The rich man’s wealth [property; possessions; savings] is his strong city [a fortified city]: the destruction [ruin; dismay; terror] of the poor [needy; helpless] is their poverty.”

“You didn’t build that!”, was an adage employed by liberal politicians in the 2012 election cycle in the United States.   Hoping to stir up class envy, the statement taunted the successful while dismissing the sacrifices and risks taken by employers and business owners.  I accept the statement if the intent is to acknowledge divine providence; however, an ideology that taunts hardworking entrepreneurs, spawns an expansive welfare state, inevitably makes citizens debtors and slaves of big government.   How tragic!   While excoriating the successful, the poor are left weak, dependent and one crisis from destitution!

Proverbs 10:15 is a statement of fact—a rich man finds comfort and security in his wealth.   In the same way citizens of a medieval city found refuge behind the walls of a city, a rich man finds security in riches providentially provided to him by God.   By contrast, the working poor are often a crisis away from desperation (an incentive to be a “saver” and not a “spender” or “debtor”).

Proverbs 10:16 – “The labour  [wages; reward] of the righteous [just; law-abiding] tendeth to life [strength; satisfaction]: the fruit [result; reaping] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] to sin [punishment; i.e. leads to greater sin].”

Though the curse of sin left man laboring for food by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19),  the reward of an honest day’s labor brings its own satisfaction.   I am not sure who to credit with the quote, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”; however, there is a lot of truth in that statement.   The prevalence of depression in our society is, I believe, directly related to the gross amount of leisure time we enjoy as a society.  Too few of us come to the end of a day and enjoy the reward of having accomplished anything that is lasting!

Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth [heeds] instruction: but he that refuseth reproof [refuses to hear and heed correction] erreth.”

Solomon continues a common theme in verse 17—God blesses a man who heeds correction and rebuke; however, a rebel will inevitably follow a path to his own destruction.

As Solomon challenged his son to take the path of righteousness, it is the duty and responsibility of parents and spiritual leaders to challenge men and women with the same enduring truths from God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2)!

Two questions to ponder: What path are you taking?  Is your heart open to correction? 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Two Things God Hates: A Covetous Heart and Lying Lips

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 2 Kings 1-5

Today’s scripture reading contains stories that have enriched the hearts, lives and imagination of children in Sunday School for centuries.  The book of 2 Kings picks up where 1 Kings finished with no introduction.  The old prophet Elijah is in the last days of his earthly ministry and his protégé Elisha is prepared to take up the “mantle” of Elijah, literally and figuratively (2 Kings 2:13).

Due to the length of today’s reading, I will content myself with a few highlights.  Ahaziah, king of Israel, became deathly ill after falling through the lattice-work of his upper chamber.  Wondering if he would recover from his fall, the wicked king sent servants to enquire of the pagan god Baalzebub (2 Kings 1:2).  God, however, intervened and sent Elijah to send word to the king that his decision to enquire of Baalzebub would result in his death (1:3-4).  The king’s messengers described Elijah as the bearer of the news concerning the king’s death (1:5-8).

Three occasions the king sent a captain and fifty soldiers demanding Elijah come to the king.  The first two times the captain and the soldiers arrogantly demanded the prophet come to the king, and each time the captain and soldiers were slain (1:9-12).  The third captain and his soldiers humbled themselves before God’s prophet and requested their lives be spared (1:13-14).

2 Kings 2 records the momentous occasion God sent a fiery chariot to take Elijah to heaven.  Elijah promised Elisha he would receive a double portion of the old prophets spirit if he saw him taken up (2:9-11).  A “double portion” was that amount of inheritance that would be allotted to a firstborn son.  In that sense, it was Elisha’s longing that he would be the inheritor of Elijah’s ministry, and indeed he was!

God promotes the ministry of Elisha as God’s prophet before three kings in 2 Kings 3.  The king of Israel, Judah, and Edom all learned God had a prophet in the land and that prophet was Elisha.

Elisha performed four miracles in 2 Kings 4.  The first, multiplying a widow’s oil to pay her debts and save her sons from becoming bond slaves (4:1-7).  The second miracle, blessing a childless, elderly woman and her husband with a son as a reward for serving as Elisha’s benefactors (4:8-17).  The third miracle was raising that same elderly couples’ son from the dead (4:18-37).  The fourth miracle was turning a poison pottage into one that nourished the “sons of the prophets” (4:38-44).

I close with Elisha directing the healing of a leper named “Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria” (2 Kings 5:1).   The description of Naaman’s character aids us in understanding why his welfare was so important to his king.  We read, he “was a great man [noble; but perhaps great is size as well] with his master, and honourable [exalted; respected]…a mighty [heroic; valiant; champion] man in valour [virtuous; strong], but he was a leper” (5:1).

Every man has his flaws and challenges; however, for Naaman his was an illness…leprosy.  There was no cure for leprosy and a leper would eventually face exclusion from the living as the disease slowly took hold on the face, limbs and extremities of the body.

Providentially for Naaman, a slave girl from Israel waited upon his wife and shared with her there was a great prophet in Samaria who could heal her husband (5:2-3).  When the king of Syria heard there was hope for Naaman’s healing in Israel, he sent a letter with Naaman and gifts requesting his captain would be healed of leprosy (5:4-6).  Knowing the request was impossible for him to fulfill, the king of Israel “rent his clothes” fearing the king of Syria was provoking a conflict with Israel (5:7).  At his request, the king sent Naaman to Elisha (5:8).

Naaman, feeling slighted by Elisha’s refusal to greet him and perhaps expecting some great, ceremonial act of healing, was instead directed by Elisha’s servant to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times (5:9-10).  The thought of the great warrior of Syria humbling himself to wash in Israel’s small river infuriated Naaman who at first refused (5:11-12).  Fortunately, his servants prevailed upon him and persuaded him to obey the prophet.  When Naaman came forth from the Jordan “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (5:13-14).

Following his healing, Naaman offered to reward Elisha for his service; however, the prophet refused his gifts (5:15-16).  Naaman responded to the prophet and his miraculous healing with a moving statement of his faith that his sacrifices would forever be only unto the LORD, Jehovah, the Self-existent, Eternal God of Israel (5:17-18).

Reminding us a spirit of covetous (Exodus 20:17) might take root in the hearts of those who serve the LORD, “Gehazi, the servant of Elisah” set his heart on a portion of the reward Naaman offered to Elisha (5:20-22).

With a greeting of shalom, “Is all well?” (5:21) and Gehazi responding with shalom, “All is well” (5:22), Gehazi lied suggesting Elisha had sent him for a portion of the reward.  When Naaman granted his request, Gehazi hid the gifts (5:23-24) and took his place before Elisha (5:25).

When Elisha asked Gehazi where he had gone, he lied (5:25); whereupon, Elisha cursed his covetous heart and his unfaithful servant was smitten with the leprosy that had plagued Naaman (5:26-27).  Leprosy marked the end of his ministry to Elisha and became Gehazi’s lifelong reminder God hates covetousness and lying lips.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Imagine A Pastor Saying: “Stop Giving…You’ve Given Too Much!”

Monday, May 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 33-36

God called Moses to go up to the Mount and gave him His Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, His governing Laws in Exodus 22:22-24:8 and His assurance He would be with His chosen people when they went up to the land He had promised them for an inheritance (Exodus 23:20-33).  God also gave instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Ark and the altar for sacrifices (Exodus 25-27).   God established the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 28:6-30), consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests (Exodus 29:1-37; 30:22-33) and defined the robes and ornaments the priests were to wear. 

While Moses was in the mount with the LORD and away from the tribes of Israel, the people rebelled, returning to the ways of Egypt, they demanded for Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship in Moses’ absence (Exodus 32).  Angered by the sin of the people, God vowed to judge them in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-8), but Moses interceded for them (Exodus 32:9-14).   There were consequences for the sin of the people and God did judge them; however, in answer to Moses’ prayer, the Lord did not destroy them altogether (Exodus 32:12-34:28).

With God’s judgment past, Moses directed the construction of the Tabernacle, the temporal dwelling that symbolized God’s presence in the midst of His people, according to all the plans God had given him (Exodus 35:4-36:38).

I close this brief devotional commentary with an observation concerning the manner of people enlisted to construct the Tabernacle, the Ark and its implements and the spirit with which the people gave and served.

The condition and attitude of the hearts of the people was important to the Lord.  Those who gave of their possessions and those who labored in the construction of the Tabernacle were “wise hearted…stirred…willing…willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29).

Exodus 35:10 – 10  And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;

Exodus 35:20-22 – 21  And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
22  And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.

Exodus 35:25-26 – 25  And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.
26  And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.

Exodus 35:29 – 29  The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

God called, inspired and employed the most skilled workers in Israel to build the place He would meet with His people (Exodus 35:30-36:2).

Exodus 35:30-35 – 30  And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;
31  And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
32  And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
33  And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
34  And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
35  Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.

Exodus 36:1-2 – 1  Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.
2  And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:

The offerings the people gave so exceeded the need that Moses “restrained” them from bringing any more (36:5-6).  We read; the people gave “too much” (36:7).

Imagine being a part of a congregation where the hearts of the people is so stirred to give and serve the LORD that the pastor tells the people, “Please, stop giving! You have given too much already!”  Such is the manner of a people when they are “wise hearted…stirred…willing…and willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek Them Not!”

May 26, 2017

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 42-46

Today’s reading assignment in our “Read-Through-the Bible” is possibly the longest so far and it is my desire to spare you from an equally long devotional commentary.  I will highlight several prophecies found in Jeremiah 42-46 and make a few observations.

As you may remember, Jeremiah’s ministry has been to warn Judah and her kings that the time for repentance had past and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the army of Nebuchadnezzar was certain.  Rather than heed the prophets warning, the people abused, persecuted and imprisoned the old prophet.  God, in an exercise of His grace, did not leave the people hopeless and Jeremiah assured the people the nation would one day be restored to the land and Jerusalem rebuilt.

The fate of the nation was sealed; however, the LORD assured the people, “Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. 12  And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” (Jeremiah 42:11-12)

Because some of the people would be tempted to flee south into Egypt, the LORD warned the nation, “hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; 16  Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.” (Jeremiah 42:15-16)

Knowing some of the people would not heed the LORD’s admonition, Jeremiah warned them, “Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant11  And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt…and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt” (Jeremiah 43:10-12). Jeremiah’s warning to the remnant that retreated into Egypt continues in Jeremiah 44.

Jeremiah 44:11-14, 23 – “11 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. 12  And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. 13  For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: 14  So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape…23  Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.”

Rather than the safety they sought, the remnant of Judah that fled from Nebuchadnezzar’s army to Egypt perished in that land (Jeremiah 44:26-30).  In His grace, God promised a “small number” would “escape the sword” and return to Judah (44:28).  The prophecy against Egypt continues in Jeremiah 46.

I invite you to consider Jeremiah 45 as I conclude my highlights of chapters 42-46.  Jeremiah 45 is a brief, but fascinating passage.  Consisting of only five verses and addressed specifically to Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch (45:1), the LORD lovingly and directly addressed the man who stood by the prophet Jeremiah as he faithfully declared God’s Word to the people.  The prophecies of God’s judgment deeply affected Baruch (45:2-3) as he faced the same hardships, persecutions and imprisonment as the old prophet.

Jeremiah admonished Baruch, his faithful friend and scribe,  warning him: “seekest [require; beg; strive after] thou great things [high; greater; proud thing] for thyself? seek [require; beg; strive after] them not: for, behold, I will bring [come in; enter; give; advance] evil [bad; adversity; affliction; distress] upon all flesh [person; mankind; bodies], saith the LORD: but thy life [soul; person; heart] will I give [deliver; commit; give up; abandon] unto thee for a prey [spoil; possessions; booty; plunder] in all places whither thou goest [walk; depart; follow].”

Friend, I close today’s devotional commentary with the same questions and challenge for you:  Why are you never satisfied?  Why is your heart and affections set upon temporal riches, possessions and titles, knowing all those things will perish?  Why do you sacrifice the spiritual walk of your family for the carnal?  Seek Them Not! 

Matthew 6:19-21 19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Beware ‘Fair Weather’ Friends”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 41-42

Today’s reading brings us to the closing chapters in the Book of Job and the conclusion of trials and troubles that shadowed Job’s life throughout our study.

God patiently allowed Job’s “friends” to accuse the poor man of concealing a sin that was the cause of his sorrows and He heard Job’s defense.  The LORD began to address Job with a series of questions in chapter 38 and invoked the man to turn his thoughts from himself to the glory and majesty of his Creator.

Having pondered the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty over His creation, Job replied, “Behold, I am vile [cursed; despised]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [i.e. silent; have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Hearing Job’s confession, the LORD suddenly appeared in the midst of a great windstorm and began to speak and challenge Job in a series of penetrating questions meant to move Job to have a right perspective of himself and God (40:6-9).  The LORD continues to question Job in chapter 41.

Realizing it is impossible to address the series of questions in a brief devotional commentary, I will make a few passing observations.

The LORD invited Job to consider the “leviathan” in Job 41:1.  The identity of this great creature is uncertain; however, some scholars suggest it was a giant saltwater crocodile.  Perhaps it was a giant creature of the sea that is extinct, but whose remains we identify today as those of a dinosaur.  Either way, the analogy draws Job to conclude that man is foolish to question his Creator when he pales in size and strength to the majestic creatures God has created (41:1-9).

God challenged Job to consider, if man cannot tame a “leviathan”, he has no right to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  The LORD declares of Himself,  “He beholdeth [considers; sees] all high things [i.e. He is Master of His creation]: He is a king over all the children of pride” (41:34).

Having heard God’s revelations of Himself and pondered the evidences of the LORD’s power and might as sovereign of His creation, Job humbled himself and confessed, “I abhor [despise] myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).

God turned the focus of His wrath toward Job’s foolish “friends” (42:7-9) and commands “Eliphaz the Temanite” and Job’s other “friends” to go to Job with sacrifices, humble themselves, and ask the very man they had condemned to pray for them (42:8-9).  Job, evidencing the grace of a humble, repentant man of God, “prayed for his friends” and God rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10).

Consider with me a few closing thoughts on “Fair-Weather Friends” from Job 42:11.

Job 42:11 – “Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials], and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned [i.e. showed sympathy] him, and comforted [pitied] him over all the evil [troubles] that the LORD had brought [i.e. allowed to enter] upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.”

 I find Job 42:11 sadly familiar for anyone who has gone through difficult times that brought extended sorrows.  We have studied forty-two chapters in the life of Job and, with the exception of his wife who in the midst of her own anguish suggested Job curse God and die and four “friends” who proposed to be his counselors but became his critics, all other acquaintances in Job’s life have been strangely absent. Suddenly, with the hard times past and Job enjoying financial prosperity again, we read: Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials]” (42:11).

Where were these “brethren” and “sisters” when Job lost everything?  Where were Job’s acquaintances when he lost his sons and daughters, servants, home, physical health and possessions?  Why appear now to show sympathy and comfort?  Why wait to bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings after God has begun to pour out his blessings on Job and he has need of nothing?

Some reading this devotional commentary are and have been “fair-weather” friends to family, friends, and spiritual leaders.

You went MIA when loved ones needed you most.  You stopped calling when you could have encouraged.  You stopped visiting when a shoulder to cry on would have brought welcome relief.  When you should have offered a word of encouragement, you were silent.  When you were needed most, you departed and forsook your family, friends, church and pastors.

Friend, look into the mirror we find in Job 42:11, humble yourself and go to your “friend” if you were a “fair-weather” friend when you were needed most.

I confess, after thirty-eight years of ministry, I have had my share of “fair-weather” friends; however, my heart rejoices in the knowledge God prospered Job in his last years and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Show Me the Money!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Corinthians 9-10

The city of Corinth was the most important city of ancient Greece.  In the apostle Paul’s day it served as the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia.  Located on a major East to West trade route, Corinth was the 4th largest city of the Roman Empire. However, like most major cities, Corinth was known for its wealth and licentious lifestyle.

Paul established the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey and his first letter to the church was both pointed and direct.  The apostle rebuked a whole litany of shameful sins present in the church: Immorality; Covetousness; Idolatry; Drunkenness; Slander (1 Corinthians 5); Christians suing Christians in secular courts (1 Corinthians 6); and the sacrilegious treatment of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11) were among the sins the church had tolerated in its midst.  Paul concluded his first letter to the Corinthian believers, exhorting them to take up an offering to minister to the needs of the suffering saints in Judaea.

In contrast to his first letter, the Book of 2 Corinthians is a letter of affirmation and exhortation to Christians in Corinth.  The Corinthian believers heeded Paul’s admonishment concerning sin in the church and dealt with sinners in the midst.  In addition to his affirmation, Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth to fulfill their promise to send a sacrificial offering to the suffering saints in Judea.

Paul used the churches of Macedonia [Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea] as a model to motivate the Corinthians to fulfill their obligation to send a generous offering.  Unlike the wealthier people of Corinth, the believers of Macedonia, had given out of their poverty (2 Cor. 8:2), giving generously beyond their ability (2 Cor. 8:3)

Sparingly” and “bountifully” are two adverbs Paul used to define attitudes towards giving.  Paul writes, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

A believer who gives “sparingly” is stingy, miserly and tight-fisted.  Paul warns, sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly!  Be a miser when you give, don’t be surprised you reap the same when you are in need.  In contrast, give “bountifully” knowing generous givers are recipients of generous blessings!

The analogy Paul draws in 2 Corinthians 9:6 is from Solomon’s pictures of two farmers, one who scatters seed and another who hoards seed (Proverbs 11:24-26).

Proverbs 11:24-26 – “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth [God rewards generosity]; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty [covetousnessness leads to poverty]. 
25 The liberal soul [gives, bestows blessings] shall be made fat [satisfied]: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself [Gal. 6:7 – You reap what you sow].26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”

I close with three spiritual truths on giving:

1) God rewards generosity (Proverbs 11:24).

2) Covetousness leads to poverty (Proverbs 11:24).

3) A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7; Prov. 11:25-26): A generous soul will be content (Proverbs 11:25), but a hoarder is despised (Proverbs 11:26.

I do not know about you, but sign me up for giving and its promised rewards!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Does Your Pastor Deserve A Raise?

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