1 Corinthians 9; 2 Kings 1-2; Amos 7
There seems to be a new way to judge preaching today. Great preachers are on TV, or podcast, or maybe you can subscribe to his YouTube channel. The church is known as <insert pastor’s name>’s church. People hang on their every word. When you go to your local church, people are talking about the pastor they just saw on TV. Often, people will send their offerings into this pastor while not supporting their own local church. This means that the famous pastor will get a higher salary. (Of course, some take no salary but live solely on book sales, but you understand the point.) Meanwhile, the pastors in the local churches scratch by. Local churches deal with financial problems. Pastors are bi-vocational because the church isn’t large enough to support a full-time pastor. People tend to look down on local church pastors, especially bi-vocational pastors, because, if they were any good…well, you know.
Interestingly enough, Paul had a similar problem. The church at Corinth, which was founded by Paul as he proclaimed the gospel there, was looking down on Paul because he wasn’t getting paid for preaching the gospel. Perhaps they were thinking that they shouldn’t have to pay anyone because of Paul’s example. In either case, Paul had to deal with a church that misunderstood how important pastors are. “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast.” (1 Corinthians 9:14-15)
Whatever the situation, Paul had to emphasize the truth that a church should support their pastor. They work hard to minister to the people, to prepare to proclaim the gospel, and to proclaim the gospel. Doing that right takes time and preparation and God’s plan included caring for those who proclaimed the gospel. He used the example of an ox being able to eat the grain he’s threshing and the priests at the Temple getting meat from the offerings. It is a God-given responsibility for a church to support their pastor to the best of their ability. Paul then pointed out his situation. He had this right, just as other pastors to the church at Corinth did, but he voluntarily surrendered that right so that he could preach the gospel without compensation. The problem, at least among the Corinthians, was that some were doubting his value as an apostle or even a preacher of the gospel. The attitude was something like, “well, he must not be very good if he’s not making any money at it.” Paul ended that speculation by pointing out that proclaiming the gospel freely was his reward. This was his joy.
The real truth about pastors is that if they are preaching for any reason other than fulfilling the call of God in their lives, their preaching is meaningless. Their joy should be sharing the gospel no matter what the compensation is. When someone is doing that, the power of the word of God is magnified. You want to see pastors who are willing to sacrifice to proclaim the gospel, look at those bi-vocational pastors. They love the opportunity to preach so much that they’re willing to work other jobs just to be able to find a way to proclaim the gospel. Often, they work full-time jobs and come home for a brief time with their families before the go to study and prepare. Their families are involved in the ministry because that’s the only way the ministry will survive, and proclaiming the gospel is such a joy that everyone in the family sacrifices to do that. Preaching with passion, preaching out of joy: that’s great preaching!
Oh Lord, thank You for those who proclaim Your word. Thank You for those who make great sacrifices to share Your love because they experience such joy when they do.