1 CORINTHIANS 9:1-15
1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7Who at any time pays the expenses for doing military service? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not get any of its milk?
8Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is sacrificed on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this so that they may be applied in my case. Indeed, I would rather die than that - no one will deprive me of my ground for boasting!
M & M. Money and Ministry.
The history of money and ministry covers all possible combinations: no money, a lot of money, just enough money, hatred of money, love of money, indifference to money.
The mendicant orders of the Catholic Church forsake money and live on the gifts of others. Poor monks/rich orders. Historic, faith based missionaries like J. Hudson Taylor relied on God in prayer for money, while televangelists appeal unashamedly for money from viewers. Money is a sign of heaven for some. Money is the sign of the world for others.
Money and ministry -- an uneasy pair.
For the Apostle Paul, a minister should be paid for his or her ministry. That's the argument in the above passage. But Paul chose not to be paid by the Corinthian church because they had such a distorted view of money. Paul did not want to get entangled with the Corinthian church who believed that they could "buy" Paul's ministry. Rather than entanglement, Paul opted for unambiguous clarity: keep your money, I will support myself as a tentmaker, and I will still carry out my ministry.
Paul gives up his right to be paid so that the Corinthian believers could advance in their faith without confusion about money. As Paul encouraged one's freedom to be restrained by love in the previous section, now Paul restrains his own right to be paid because of his love for the Corinthian believers.
It wasn't ideal for Paul; but in the real world you make compromises to advance the Gospel.
Money itself is neither good nor evil. It all depends on how it is seen and how it is used. Crave it, hunger for it, instead of God, then you're in trouble, "for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). Hope in it and give yourself for it, it becomes the object of your true worship. And nothing is more sad and despairing, from God's point of view, than trying to do the impossible: to serve God and money at the same time ("you cannot serve both God and money" Matthew 6:24).
We serve God, we love God, we worship God. Everything else is secondary. The secondary serves the primary. If that is the case, then we use money to serve God and to serve the people and those things God loves. As simple and beautiful as that.
Let's pray: Father God, thank you for all blessings of this life, including money. Help us to love you supremely. Help us to see everything else in the light of our worship of you. Free us from any entanglements with our own worldly hopes, especially in the area of money. May the freedom we have in Christ help us to serve you and those you love. In Jesus' name, amen.