13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach.Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e., us):
Today’s text brings to mind the other golden rule. You know the one I’m talking about. “He or she who has the gold makes the rule.” Let’s recall what’s going on here in Corinth. Paul has made these people mad. He’s put the kibbutz on the prostitutes and all the socializing over meals in the pagan temples. We would do well now to remind ourselves of the salutation in this letter, the one we reprint every day at the top of this entry: To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e., us).
Paul is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples which entails some fairly dramatic change in this community of Corinthians. Because they were not appreciating his challenges to them, they played the money card, sort of. The problem is they couldn’t control Paul with money. Paul didn’t have a problem with money or taking money for doing the work of the gospel—until it was a problem, and I think he knew it would pose a problem in Corinth. He was right. The bottom line for Paul is he would not allow himself to become beholden to anyone but Jesus Christ. In fact, that’s what “Jesus Christ is Lord” meant for Paul, period. He would be beholden to no one else, which is another way of saying he was free to serve with no strings attached.
Paul was going to preach the gospel to this church he started whether they respected him as an Apostle or not, whether they paid him or not, whether they received his counsel and heeded his warnings or not.
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for the ways you call me to have a humble heart, an undivided heart, and an uncompromising obedience. To be called is not enough, Lord. I need to be empowered. Come Holy Spirit and fill my willingness with the power of your willingness. I cannot be like you apart from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
1. Does this kind of thing happen today? You tell me. Do preachers not preach on the hard things because they fear offending people who have “resources?”
2. Have you ever been around people who try to leverage their giving in potentially manipulative ways. Have you ever been one of those people?
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