Ministerial SupportBro. David Chancellor
6/11/2006 6:00 PM
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
These had to make a choice on what to stay focused on. They were trying to figure out the social responsibilities of the church. The church’s main focus is spiritual matters. The disciples had someone appointed to take care of the social matters. If they would give themselves solely to prayer, support was needed for them.
The doctrine of ministerial support is a biblical doctrine. We have a responsibility to support those that bring the gospel. There is a need for ministerial leadership. While there is a need for prayer and ministering the word, the apostle Paul also sometimes worked. There is a New Testament principle that the ministry should be supported and it is the responsibility of the saints to do it.
1 Corinthians 9:1-15
Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 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? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 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? 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. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 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. 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? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 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.
Paul was writing to those at Corinth who questioned his calling because they hadn’t financially supported him. Paul was aware of how things should be, but he had deferred for the sake of the message. He was more concerned about getting the message out.
Paul referred to the law of Moses and the part about the ox. He points out how God takes care of the ox. The ox was allowed to eat some of the corn he was working on. God made a way for the ox to share in the fruit of the work. God cares about the ministry, too. It was right for Paul to focus on spiritual things, but there was a need for support, too.
"Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." This is a valid statement. This is something we need to consider for the future. A man of God isn’t in this to enrich himself. Most adults have a pretty good idea of what it takes to live. If we feel this responsibility, we need to get a good idea of what is needed. The ministry isn’t about accumulating wealth. If at some point we have a full-time minister, we should begin a habit of giving that will allow for that later.
Paul didn’t ask these to support him because he was trying to keep a focus on the gospel. This is a biblical principle. It needs to be a living wage that keeps a pastor living comfortably. It also needs to be given such that the ones giving can also take care of their own needs. God will only require what you are able to do. Handle your responsibility such that you are clear before God.
Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
The taught should support the teacher. This is a commonly accepted principle in all areas of life. There is something to give back. Something that benefits your soul is worthy of your support.
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of his meat.
As Jesus sent out the 12, he told them to go empty-handed. They would be provided for. He used this to make a point to them that one that does a good job is worthy of support. There can be provision made even if you don’t do it yourself.
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.
The laborer is worthy of his hire. Don’t look for a better situation or more money. The true man of God won’t do that. He’ll work where God has put him. He isn’t out for material gain. A true man of God cares about the gospel first and foremost.
1 Timothy 5:16-21
If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
Paul was admonishing Timothy who was involved in several congregations. We have a responsibility to family. We need to balance helping family and helping the church.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour …” Support the message and financially support the one bringing the message. We should all be working toward the same goal. "And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." Those that serve well are worthy of being supported. Don’t accept a negative story without solid evidence.
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” The elder that sins needs a public rebuke, so that others won’t be taken in by it. Leaders need to keep themselves clear and clean.
“…that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” This is a tough assignment for a minister, but it is a necessary one. The minister has to endeavor not to be partial, even though he has relationships that might make it appear he’s inclined to be partial.
3 John 5-8
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church; whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well. Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.
John said we have some responsibilities where the gospel is being carried forth. God has given us some responsibilities. We are to be fellowhelpers of the truth. We’re all working toward the same goal. We can all have a part in it and it not be adversarial.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-9
For yourselves know how we ought to follow us: for we behaved not disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
Paul wanted to be an example. He wanted them to see the gospel as first and foremost. He wanted them to know what was important. The true man of God desires to be an example of what matters. It matters to the man of God what he puts across. He won’t put his own interests ahead of the gospel. The one that works for the gospel needs to be supported, because physically one can only do so much.
2 Corinthians 12:12-15
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you; for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
Paul had done the work of an apostle. We don’t automatically support everyone that claims to be a minister. Paul was worthy of their support because he had lived the life before them. A minister such as this is worthy of your support. It’s important that we live up to this responsibility of support. Are we living up to the responsibility as God would have us to? Are there things we could do without? Are there things we could lay aside for the gospel? Are we putting into the gospel like we should? It may take some time to change things. If you don’t think about it, start thinking. It is our responsibility. Look ahead. Get in the habit of giving what is needed. Think ahead.