1 Corinthians 9; 2 Kings 1-2; Amos 7
Paul had an interesting problem. It seems that the Corinthians were discounting him and the words he spoke. It appears that rather than taking up an offering when he preached, like other traveling evangelists, he preached for free. If others proclaiming their beliefs, whether Christian or not, were collecting offerings from their followers and Paul wasn’t – was he really that good of a preacher? Paul defended himself thusly: “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:11-12) Even in Paul’s day the validity of the message was measured to some degree by the financial success of the messenger. Paul explained that if he wanted to, he could have raised money for himself. The money he did raise was to help others while he provided for his own personal expenses through his tent making skills. The measure of Paul’s “success” was not to be found in his own enrichment, it was to be found in the message itself. Was the gospel advancing because he preached it whether or not he made any money at it? Paul’s contention was that if they looked inside themselves, the gospel was advancing because many of them were now followers of Christ because of Paul’s preaching. The measure of success really hasn’t changed much over the years. People look at the size of the church, the book and DVD sales, or how much money the preacher brings in. The measure of a preacher in God’s eyes remains the same: is the preacher faithful; is the gospel advancing because of that preacher? In other words, perhaps we should ask ourselves this question if we seek to determine the character of a preacher: Whose kingdom is being built?