Being Grateful For The Teaching
The Apostle Paul did not want to burden the churches by asking for their money. Instead he chose to earn his own living in the market place, as a tent maker (1 Thessalonians 2:5-9). However, he did not demand that all gospel ministers should be self-supporting: the Lord Jesus permitted His disciples to accept hospitality and gifts (Luke 10:5-7).
Paul quoted those verses to Timothy making it plain that they applied to teachers in the churches and not only to the apostles, 'The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’' (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Perhaps people in the church were simply being mean: they were glad to receive teaching, comfort and godly wisdom, but did not understand that they had a responsibility to support those who were providing essential ministry to them.
It can be quite a difficult issue. On the one hand, it is not right for Christian ministers to get rich at the expense of their congregation; but, on the other hand, it is not right for the congregation to fail to care for their pastors and teachers. To put it another way: Christian teachers should be willing to give themselves to the work of the ministry and trust the Lord to provide for them, but, at the same time, their congregations have a responsibility to provide for the needs of those who watch over them spiritually. They should be grateful for the spiritual blessings they have enjoyed and think about how they can say ‘thank you’. It is never a right for the pastors to demand payment; but it is a responsibility for their people to give. The gifts may come ‘in kind’, money, hospitality, or the provision of goods and services; but they should all come with love, gratitude and a sense of commitment for the welfare of their teachers. If you have never given i n order to support somebody else’s ministry, it is time to start! If you used to give but have stopped for any reason, it is time to start again!
© Dr Paul Adams