1 Corinthians 9:1-18
HIS PERSONAL COMPENSATION
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
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?
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
The apostle Paul uses some very common experiences to illustrate his points. For example, a soldier who goes to war does not go at his own expense. He is a mercenary, hired to be a soldier. He gets paid for it. Or the farmer who plants his vineyard reaps the harvest of the vineyard. He expects to benefit from the grape gathering. The shepherd who cares for his sheep expects to profit from the milk, meat, and wool of the flock. It is expected that the flock will return benefit to the shepherd.
Paul then reached into the Old Testament and quoted from Deuteronomy 25:4: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain.” He used this illustration to show that God is concerned about the animal who treads out the grain.
Certainly, God would be concerned about the minister who ministers the Word of God. So Paul went on and pointed out that those who minister spiritual truth and spiritual benefit should have some remuneration, some compensation in the carnal things, the fleshly things.
Sow the spiritual and harvest the fleshly. The minister of God has bodily needs and physical needs just like anyone else does. He also lives a mortal life. So his daily need of food, clothing, and shelter are just as current as those for anyone else. The apostle recognized that there is a spiritual body and a physical body. So when the Man of God ministers to the spiritual body, those who benefit from that ministry should respond and meet the needs of his physical body. We are to nurture both.
Again Paul reached into the Old Testament for further instruction. By the Mosaic Law, those who ministered at the altar were to receive from the altar. They were to experience the blessing of receiving. The priest received a part of the animal and grain sacrifices as they were brought to be sacrificed. This is clearly outlined in Leviticus. The priests and Levites had no inheritance like the rest of the people of Israel. But they were given certain territories and villages around the towns. And they were then blessed and helped by the offerings the children of Israel brought to the tabernacle or temple. They were sustained by the gifts of the people. This is the illustration the apostle Paul brings in terms of the Man of God in the present situation.
When the Lord sent out the 70, he made a significant statement that we should understand. The apostle referred to it. Luke 10:5-9 records Jesus’words:
And into whatsoever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give:for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Did you notice Jesus said that the people of the city are to feed the ministers, the evangelists? In my evangelistic, revival services years ago, I usually stayed in the home of a family of the congregation, most often the pastor’s family. They provided for my needs while I was among them.
Barnes has words for us in his commentary in I Corinthians:
It might be added, that society is benefited in a financial way by the service of a faithful minister to a far greater extent than the amount of compensation that he receives. One drunkard, reformed under his labors, may earn and save to his family and to society as much as the whole salary of the pastor. The promotion of order, peace, sobriety, industry, education, regularity in business, and honesty in contracting and in paying debts, saves much more to the community at large than the cost of the support of the gospel. In regard to this, any man may make the comparison at his leisure, between those places where the ministry is established, and where temperance, industry, and sober habits prevail, and those places where there is no ministry, and where gambling, idleness, and dissipation abound. It is always a matter of economy to a people, in the end, to support ministers as they ought to be supported.
If you wish to build a financial empire, the ministry is the wrong choice. If you long for lasting value reaching into eternity, then give yourself to God’s service. The minister’s personal compensation, though important, is not the main consideration.
Finally, let us consider:
HIS PERSONAL COMPULSION
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
For the apostle Paul, it was either do or die. There was a strong inner drive. There was no option left. Paul said the ministry was his calling. As you review what Jesus said to him when He met him on the Damascus road, you will understand why the apostle Paul said, “Do or die. If I do not do, then I might as well die.”
Results are not the measuring stick anyway. The measuring stick is faithfulness. Do what you are called to do. That is what the apostle Paul said. That was his inner compulsion. “I will do or I will die.”
Preaching the gospel was a necessity. Notice verse 16: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” Paul felt very clearly that if he did not fulfill his calling if he did not preach the gospel, then he was under very severe judgment.
A willing service is a reward. To be a Man of God means to serve regardless of the results. The results are not measured in bank accounts or financial holdings looked at from his standpoint. The rewards are eternal. The rewards are people who have come to the Lord, people who have reordered their lives, and have become new people in Christ Jesus. That is the reward.
The Man of God has a life-long calling. He must fulfill it. I must refer again to Barnes’s commentary:
Men who leave the ministry, and voluntarily devote themselves to some other calling when they might preach, never had the proper spirit of an ambassador of Jesus. If for the sake of ease or gain; if to avoid the cares and anxieties of the life of a pastor; if to make money, or secure money when made; if to cultivate a farm, to teach a school, to write a book, to live upon an estate, or to enjoy life, they lay aside the ministry, it is proof that they never had a call to the work. So did not Paul, and Paul’s Master and ours. They loved the work, and they left it not till death. Neither for ease, honor, nor wealth; neither to avoid care, toil, pain, or poverty, did they cease in their work, until the one could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7; and the other, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do;” John 17:4.) We see the reason why men are sometimes miserable in other callings. They should have entered the ministry. God called them to it, and they became hopefully pious. But they chose the law, or the practice of medicine, or chose to be farmers, merchants, teachers, professors, or statesmen. And God withers their piety, blights their happiness, follows them with the reproaches of conscience, makes them sad, melancholy, wretched. They do no good, and they have no comfort in life.
Oh for a Man of God who is bound in heart and soul to preach the Book of God! We need them. We need them all across the country. All around the world.
We need Men of God who have had that
an intimate walk with Jesus
We need Men of God who understand that the
is eternal souls
We need Men of God who understand the importance of
the divine urge to fulfill the Lord’s call
My friend, if you are a pastor/preacher, I trust the Lord has spoken to your heart. If you are a member of the church, then pray for your pastor. Encourage him, lift him up, and help him to make full proof of his ministry.