How Should Those Who Preach the Gospel Earn Their Living?

[1 Corinthians 9]

6Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?8I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING " God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If 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. 13Do 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? 14So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.


It sounds like this is an age old tension - who should those who preach the gospel earn their living?  Should they have a job that supports themselves and their families or should those who receive the gospel, give financially to them?  I have personally been back and forth in this argument.  Should missionaries be tent-makers?  (A term that describes what Paul did for a living.  He was a tent makeer and it seems that is how he made his living.)  But this passage has a very clear answer.  "So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel."  He points out that even the law agrees. Paul choose not to exercise this right so that there would be no cause for "hindrance to the gospel of Christ."

 When you know that all things are from God and that you exist for God, you will want to participate in God's economy of giving and receiving, rather than the world's economy of earning, buying and selling.  He has given the freedom for some to sow spiritual things in you and to "reap material things from you."

Thank You God for our dear brothers and sisters who are dedicated to sharing the gospel of grace.  Supply their needs through us who receive the benefits of their work, Thank You, that we have the treasure of giving so others may go out with undistracted devotion to share the gospel.

Verna McCrillis, 6/8/2009