From Dave Black Online:
Pastoral ministry is highly demanding. I constantly realize, however, that the burdens we assume are often self-imposed. Trying to move toward a more biblical view of work and ministry can be overwhelming. How biblically ignorant I can still be! It’s particularly hard when people’s expectations get in the way. So there is much room to rethink the wineskins.
What does Paul say about work and ministry? That’s the assignment for next week in our New Testament Theology class. As always, I’m doing the assignment myself. Here are the verses I’ve gathered for my own inductive study. I think they’ll help me get the big picture. I have already written them out in Greek but I’ll list them for you in English:
1 Thess. 2:9: Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.
1 Thess. 4:11-12: Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
1 Thess. 5:12-13: Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.
1 Cor. 15:10: But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
2 Cor. 6:5: We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.
2 Cor. 11:27: I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
Eph. 4:28: If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.
1 Cor. 9:1-8: Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle. This is my answer to those who question my authority. Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? Don’t we have the right to bring a Christian wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it. Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than lose my right to boast about preaching without charge. Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.
1 Tim. 5:17-18: Elders who do their work well should be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”
Acts 20:33-35: “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Wow! This is very convicting to me. It seems that the Gospel fares better against outright opposition than against our frivolous and slothful lifestyles. A Paul slaving away night and day to support himself while doing ministry is a laughingstock. I am all for unity but today “togetherness” seems mired up in “conformity.” Is the status quo worth maintaining when it comes to our work ethic? That’s the question we’ll be asking next Wednesday. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our discussion.