Saturday, June 05, 2010

Don't Muzzle the Preacher (Dt 25:4)

"You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing." (Deuteronomy 25:4)
Paul further expounds on this verse by applying it to those who were sent out for the ministry of the gospel.
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:11-14)
Paul plainly states that those who proclaim the gospel have the right to make a living from the gospel. Those whom God calls, He provides for; often through the generosity and support of others. Even Jesus was thus supported in His earthly ministry.
"Soon afterwards, He [Jesus] began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means." (Luke 8:1-3)
Paul Himself, while he did not always make use of this right, did receive the support and assistance of other believers.
"You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God." (Philippians 4:15-18)
However, given these scriptures, it seems to me that those whom the early believes supported where those that were sent out, send away from the church, to spread the gospel. It was the traveling ministries that were supported by the churches and the believers.
"You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth." (3 John 6-8)
It is my belief that our present practices, at least in my own country, of hiring and paying full-time pastors and staff for the local church is not what Paul meant when he spoke of those who proclaimed the gospel. I believe that Paul was more directly speaking of those traveling ministries; those who left the comfort of home and the local church for the sake of the gospel. They were the ones sent out and went about proclaiming the gospel; they were the ones who had the right to make their living from the gospel. This is not to say that paying a local pastor is wrong, but we should seek first to support traveling ministries in the work of the gospel.

David Robison

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