Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
Randy and I felt truly called to be teachers in a public school environment. We were passionate about teaching kids. We worked hard in our young married lives with three children to accomplish the goal for both of us to be teachers. Teachers are not paid well we were advised by the Director of Education at our university, so this has to be a calling for all of you. You will not make money doing this for kids. You will barely survive financially. Maybe two of you can have one decent salary. We trudged on to accomplish the goal.
We both taught school until the day God called us to another mission. This mission would pay even less. God called Randy to temporarily pastor the church we grew up in. We had no idea what compensation there would be as the church was struggling because of the extended vacancy left by other pastors. That didn’t bother us because when God calls, He provides. That was our belief and God honored our faith behavior. There were a few times when the church couldn’t pay him but we survived.
Nine years later, the church was more stable. Randy felt a deeper call to full time ministry with more training at a seminary in Ohio. I felt a call to full time ministry but didn’t know what to do with that call. The denomination then called me to a newly created position that used all the gifts God gave me as a teacher and much more. It was a tremendous challenge that left me weak in the knees but strong in faith that God would see us through. Randy was also called to pastor a small church while attending seminary. We packed up all our belongings and left for Ohio not knowing what our compensation would be until we got there. Why? Because it was more important to obey than to question God’s call.
God’s call has always been more important than the compensation to many of us in ministry, but as Paul writes, many in the church sometimes take advantage of the faith of those who believe God will take care of them. God does take care of his proclaimers of His Message of salvation. We can testify to that, but isn’t it wonderful when God’s people are blessed to be the ones who compensate before being prodded by God or by reminding them of someone like Paul to get them to do it!
Most ministers are not trying to beat the system or get something out of it for themselves. (There are a few who do but don’t last long in ministry.) Most are just trying to feed their families. Most of us, like teachers, willingly pay a lot of our own expenses for supplies and extras to enhance our presentations of the gospel.
So, Paul’s words speak truth in love with a reminder for all of us to run the race to win. That means to do all that you can to train your pastor and each other. Stay alert, focused on God. Stay spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally fit to run. Don’t hold back compensation. Don’t hold back on prayer and encouragement. RUN to win the gold that is eternal. How? By obedience to God and His Call. Guess what? God calls everyone to do something for the sake of the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 9, The Message
1-2 And don’t tell me that I have no authority to write like this. I’m perfectly free to do this—isn’t that obvious? Haven’t I been given a job to do? Wasn’t I commissioned to this work in a face-to-face meeting with Jesus, our Master? Aren’t you yourselves proof of the good work that I’ve done for the Master? Even if no one else admits the authority of my commission, you can’t deny it. Why, my work with you is living proof of my authority!
3-7 I’m not shy in standing up to my critics. We who are on missionary assignments for God have a right to decent accommodations, and we have a right to support for us and our families. You don’t seem to have raised questions with the other apostles and our Master’s brothers and Peter in these matters. So, why me? Is it just Barnabas and I who have to go it alone and pay our own way? Are soldiers self-employed? Are gardeners forbidden to eat vegetables from their own gardens? Don’t milkmaids get to drink their fill from the pail?
8-12 I’m not just sounding off because I’m irritated. This is all written in the scriptural law. Moses wrote, “Don’t muzzle an ox to keep it from eating the grain when it’s threshing.” Do you think Moses’ primary concern was the care of farm animals? Don’t you think his concern extends to us? Of course. Farmers plow and thresh expecting something when the crop comes in. So if we have planted spiritual seed among you, is it out of line to expect a meal or two from you? Others demand plenty from you in these ways. Don’t we who have never demanded deserve even more?
12-14 But we’re not going to start demanding now what we’ve always had a perfect right to. Our decision all along has been to put up with anything rather than to get in the way or detract from the Message of Christ. All I’m concerned with right now is that you not use our decision to take advantage of others, depriving them of what is rightly theirs. You know, don’t you, that it’s always been taken for granted that those who work in the Temple live off the proceeds of the Temple, and that those who offer sacrifices at the altar eat their meals from what has been sacrificed? Along the same lines, the Master directed that those who spread the Message be supported by those who believe the Message.
15-18 Still, I want it made clear that I’ve never gotten anything out of this for myself, and that I’m not writing now to get something. I’d rather die than give anyone ammunition to discredit me or impugn my motives. If I proclaim the Message, it’s not to get something out of it for myself. I’m compelled to do it, and doomed if I don’t! If this was my own idea of just another way to make a living, I’d expect some pay. But since it’s not my idea but something solemnly entrusted to me, why would I expect to get paid? So am I getting anything out of it? Yes, as a matter of fact: the pleasure of proclaiming the Message at no cost to you. You don’t even have to pay my expenses!
19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for always providing for all our needs. Always. Thank you for leading and guiding us in the past, now, and in the future. Thank you for your protective Hand over us. Thank you, most of all for your unconditional love that provided for our salvation and life with you forever. Thank you for those who compensated us for the work you gave us to do over the years.
We’re still listening for your call. We will still obey.
In Jesus Name, Amen