Thursday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 (NKJV)
9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 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. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
The Office of the Ministry is work, no matter the size of the parish. It takes just as much effort to prepare sermons and Bible studies for ten people as for a hundred. Nor let anyone tell you that it’s sinful for preachers to accept a paycheck for His ministry. St. Paul says, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” Paul shows how the Levitical priests were provided for by eating of the holy things offered to God. Even the command not to muzzle the ox while he treads grain teaches us to provide for our pastors because they sow spiritual things among us.
Yet, St. Paul does not exercise this right. His reward is preaching the Gospel. Paul chose not to exercise this right out of love and concern for the Corinthians. So today, pastors may choose not to exercise this right and take secondary employment outside the parish because they love the flock and want to fulfill their calling of preaching the Gospel to them. Christians will show their love and appreciation by providing for the pastor what they are able, even if that is only a widow’s mite. Love directs both pastor and parishioner to provide for the other, the pastor sows spiritual things, and the parishioner responds with material things as he is able. Thus the relationship between pastor and people is one of reciprocal love.
Prayer: O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in Heaven and Earth, we humbly beseech Thee to put away from us all hurtful things and give to us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.