Saturday, December 6, 2014

Worthy of Hire

I have travelled the globe and seen pastors struggle to provide for their families. I helped a Pastor and his family in India who were contemplating a family suicide because conditions were so bad. Why are leaders of churches around the world not being fully paid for their positions? Is being paid as a pastor even a biblical truth or an American Christian truth?

I want to help answer some of these questions for those of you that are struggling around the world. American Christianity does put off the persona that if you are not a full time minister and getting a paycheck from the church then you are not truly a minister nor do you have the faith in God to provide for you. Let me squash this false doctrine. It is not a biblical one.

Truth #1:
When Jesus sent out the Disciples, he did tell them that God would provide for their needs and not to worry about anything.

Matthew 10:
Sending Out the Twelve

5These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying:“Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9Provide neither gold nor silver norcopper in your money belts, 10nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
11“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12And when you go into a household, greet it. 13If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

Here is the question. Was Jesus sending the disciples out on a full time ministry trip or a short term mission trip?  He sent them out on a short term missions trip. He changed his command to them before He was about to die and ascend to heaven. He was releasing them into full time ministry ( Man made word not biblical one) and he told them something different. READ BELOW
Luke 22:
Supplies for the Road

35And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”
So they said, “Nothing.”
36Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”
And He said to them, “It is enough.”

Did Jesus lose faith? Why did he change his mind? The Apostles were going to be the fathers of the faith from this point on. Jesus knew it would get rough. He knew that the road ahead for them would not be easy. It had nothing to do with God's provision going away from them. It did have something to do with practical living. We live in a complex world that is getting more complex by the minute. In America, there are plenty of ministers who have the ability to be paid for their ministry efforts. However, it is not the same in every country nor is it supposed to be. I have seen first hand how pastors in other nations have lived below the poverty line due to this American teaching. It is ok to have a job and do full time ministry. A man who does not work, does not eat.

Truth # 2: The scripture tells us to Honor Elders who are serving the body of Christ.
I Timothy 5:
Honor the Elders

17Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.18For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
21I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. 22Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
23No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.
24Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

Let's put some things into context of this whole scripture that I believe is misread sometimes. In both the Old and New testaments the word for Elder meant someone with advance age and wisdom. In the New testament the Greek work for elder is Presbuteros which simply means elder and can figuratively mean like an elder over a council. In the New Testament times churches were ran by Elders not just by one Pastor. Paul is clear when he puts a plural spin on the word Elders. Therefore, if we use just this scripture. Should only elders be the ones getting paid for their services to the Body of Christ? Did Paul express this because there was no retirement plan for the elderly during that time for most people? The Greek word for Honor is " time" ( pronounced tee-may) which does mean to give pay. Therefore, Paul was talking about monetary support in some fashion. However, there is nothing which says this was a full time event , weekly event , or monthly event. Once again it was only suggested to be given to those who have been in the faith for long time and  were serving as Elders/Mature leaders to the Body of Christ. The Elders did consist of Apostles, Prophets, teachers, Evangelists, and pastors within the local churches. Please note that this one passage of scripture only says give them double the honor or double the wages. What was the wages based off of? Were they based off a weekly wage or monthly wage? It is actually hard to determine what a wage was during this time. Some people were paid with food and other necessities. Some were given coins or a daily wage. Historically it is hard to determine what was actually given. It stands to reason that the church took care of those who where elderly leaders of the body of Christ. In my second church, I would give monetary gifts to those who were considered elders in our church. It would be $100.00 every quarter. It was pay but not a pay check. 

Truth # 3: People who spread the gospel have a right to be paid.
Paul was forever fighting at his place at the apostolic round table. The oringinal apostles were, at some point, being supported financially by the church. Scripture is unclear on how long this support took place and how much support was given.
1 Corinthians 9:1-18 GWDon’t you agree that I’m a free man? Don’t you agree that I’m an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord?  If I’m not an apostle to other people, at least I’m an apostle to you. You are the seal which proves that I am the Lord’s apostle.  This is how I defend myself to those who cross-examine me.  Don’t we have the right to eat and drink?  Don’t we have the right to take our wives along with us like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas  do?  Or is it only Barnabas and I who don’t have any rights, except to find work to support ourselves? Does a soldier ever serve in the army at his own expense? Does anyone plant a vineyard and not eat the grapes? Does anyone take care of a flock and not drink milk from the sheep?  Am I merely stating some human rule? Don’t Moses’ Teachings say the same thing?  Moses’ Teachings say, “Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing  grain.” God’s concern isn’t for oxen.  Isn’t he speaking entirely for our benefit? This was written for our benefit so that the person who plows or threshes should expect to receive a share of the crop.  If we have planted the spiritual seed that has been of benefit to you, is it too much if we receive part of the harvest from your earthly goods?  If others have the right to expect this from you, don’t we deserve even more? But we haven’t used our rights. Instead, we would put up with anything in order not to hinder the Good News of Christ in any way. Don’t you realize that those who work at the temple get their food from the temple? Don’t those who help at the altar get a share of what is on the altar?  In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who spread the Good News should earn their living from the Good News. I haven’t used any of these rights, and I haven’t written this in order to use them now. I would rather die than have anyone turn my bragging into meaningless words.  If I spread the Good News, I have nothing to brag about because I have an obligation to do this. How horrible it will be for me if I don’t spread the Good News!  If I spread the Good News willingly, I’ll have a reward. But if I spread the Good News unwillingly, I’m ⌊only⌋ doing what I’ve been entrusted to do. So what is my reward? It is to spread the Good News free of charge. In that way I won’t use the rights that belong to those who spread the Good News.
Paul often preached to the Corinthians about their sparingly giving. Paul was making a clear point and probably out of frustration. Barnabas and Paul raised up money to go on these missionary journeys. They needed to replenish their funds so they could continue the work of the gospel. This passage of scripture does point out one truth. Those who are traveling to preach the good news need financial backing from the church. We are all called to spread the message of Christ; however, not everyone is called to be an apostle or missionary. When Paul went on his missionary travels he needed some type of income. The same is true today. There are two young men on TBN that travel the world going from one country to another. They call the show Travel the Road. The are spreading the gospel and are not dormant in one area. Their type of work would make it hard to have a secular job. The idea of spreading the gospel is a reference to a farmer spreading the seed out across the land. The whole land is being covered and the farmer is not standing in one place. Paul did make a point to say that he would spread the gospel no matter what. The spreading of the Gospel was more important than the paycheck.There are alot of considerations here. Was Paul being sarcastic about being a hired minister? Was he trying to make a point to the church of Corinth about serving the Lord without conditions. Regardless, it is clear that some ministers have the right to some funds from the church. However, scripture is clear on who would get it. 1. Elders of the faith. 2.  Unrooted missionaries who travel from one village to the next or from one country to another country over a long period of time.
Truth # 4 The bible does not put more emphasis on a paid minister versus an unpaid. All are equally called.Those terms are Modern society terms.
Truth # 5 Working a secular job as a minister is not sinful or an admittance to a lack of faith.In fact, those who do both have alot of faith considering they are providing for their family and giving out personal funds for the spreading of the Gospel. 
Truth # 6  The local church you are from and/or the church you are ministering to needs to support you financially on their terms and at some level. It is also considered if you fall into those two categories. 
Truth # 7 A worker is worthy of his hirer not by his calling but by his length of service and demonstration of servanthood to God's people. In other words, new christians and young Christians should get a secular job for several seasons until they have proven themselves to the work of Christ.( Get a job!)
Truth # 8 Only certain types of callings need to be supported financially. Elders to the church and missionaries who are traveling consistently. Everyone else should not find it beneath them to get a job.  
Truth # 9 Some areas have the economic strength to support ministers financially and some do not. Paul knew the church of Corinth was better off financially than the church at Philippi. It is the same today. It is easy for an American minister to be hired on than an Indian or Filipino minister. We have to be careful with what doctrine we preach and ensure it is only God's.

Loved ones I hope this encourages you in some way. Your faith is not less if you have to get a secular job to support your family. Nor is your calling decreased in value. You are just as important. A message to those who are young in the faith. Study to show yourselves approved. Humble yourself before the Lord and God's people. If you are fortunate to live in a country to where you can be supported on a monthly basis, then be humbled and submit yourself to wise counsel. 

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