Supporting Those Who Serve

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

The support of those who work for Me as their calling and vocation has always been a touchy issue among some of My people. Paul ran into one of the most unusual of these controversies about his financial support: When he didn’t take financial support from the Corinthians, they felt his ministry was not very important. In fact, some were offended that he didn’t ask for support.

In reality, Paul had the right to ask the Corinthians to help him financially. That’s what today’s verses are really discussing. However, he recognized early in his ministry with them that he should not ask for their support. He was wise to make this decision. With the Corinthian believers’ rivalries and arrogance, those who supported him could have used their support as a claim of superiority or favor. Instead of creating another excuse for division, Paul supported himself, and sometimes his whole little mission team, with his own trade of leatherwork and tent-making.

However, as he says in the verses below:

Is it too much to ask that we would be compensated materially for planting life- and world-changing spiritual realities? … So it shouldn’t be a stretch that the Lord has arranged for preachers of the gospel to make a living by those who have embraced and been liberated by the gospel.

Paul did allow some people in other places to help support his ministry financially (Philippians 1:4-7; Philippians 4:14-16). But, he was always careful not to be a burden or to cause division or false impressions by taking financial support (1 Thessalonians 2:6-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10).

The bottom line of all these considerations is a responsibility I want you to fulfill. Make sure you honor, affirm, support, encourage, and bless those who labor faithfully with you (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12) and are working hard among you in kingdom matters (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Yes, just like there was a Judas in My original 12 apostles (John 12:4-6), you are also going to find some leaders in My Church who are unscrupulous, lazy, and even greedy. But remember, there are far more who are sacrificial servants and who give of themselves unselfishly than there are who are selfish, irresponsible, or lazy. Many of these sacrificial servants over the centuries have served without remuneration and even given their lives to serve My people and the lost. So whether the way you honor My ministering servants is by paying them for their work or by showing honor with your words and actions or by being obedient to their leadership, please honor your leaders. Honor them for what they do for you and what they do to honor Me.

Here are some additional scriptures in conjunction with the verses below. These scriptures emphasize what I want you both to know and to do:

Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show appreciation to those who are working hard among you and those who are your leaders as they guide and instruct you in the Lord — they are priceless. When you think about them, let it be with great love in your heart because of all the work they have done. Let peace live and reign among you.

Brothers and sisters, we strongly advise you to scold the rebels who devote their lives to wreaking havoc, to encourage the downcast, to help the sick and weak, and to be patient with all of them. Make sure no one returns evil for evil, but always pursue what is good as it affects one another in the church but also all people.

(1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

Elders who are leading well should be admired and valued. Double up on the honor shown them; care for them well — especially those constantly and consistently teaching the word and preaching. For the Scripture agrees, “Don’t muzzle the ox while it is treading out your grain,” and, “The worker deserves his wages.”

(1 Timothy 5:17-18)

Listen to your leaders, who have spoken God’s word to you. Notice the fruits of their lives and mirror their faith. Jesus the Anointed One is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever.

(Hebrews 13:7-8)

Listen to your leaders and submit to their authority over the community, for they are on constant watch to protect your souls and someday they must give account. Give them reason to be joyful and not to regret their duty, for that will be of no good to you.

(Hebrews 13:17)

You who are younger in the faith: do as your elders and leaders ask. All of you should treat each other with humility, for as it says in Proverbs,

God opposes the proud

but offers grace to the humble.

So bow down under God’s strong hand; then when the time comes, God will lift you up.

(1 Peter 5:5-6)

Verses to Live

Many of My greatest servants, people who have given themselves to serve Me and My kingdom sacrificially, will never have their names honored, or their work noticed unless you affirm and thank them. So please, honor those who lead you and honor Me!

Am I not truly free? Am I not an emissary of the Liberating King? Have I not personally encountered Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work, my mission in the Lord? Even if others don’t recognize that I am His emissary, at least you do because you are the seal, the living proof that the Lord commissioned me to be His representative.

Let me speak in my own defense against those keeping themselves busy picking me apart. Have we lost the right to eat and drink? Have we lost the right to bring along our wives, our sisters in Jesus? Other emissaries travel with their wives, and so do the brothers of our Lord, not to mention Cephas. Is it just Barnabas and I who have lost the right to earn a living? Is a soldier in combat required to pay his own salary? Who would plant a vineyard and not enjoy one grape from it? Who would care for and nurture a flock but never taste the fresh milk?

These ideas aren’t based on merely human notions; the law says these same things. In Moses’ law, it is written: “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out your grain.” Is God’s concern here limited to oxen, or does He speak here ultimately for our benefit? These things were written for us, so as the plowman plows and the worker gathers, they can labor with the hopeful expectation that they, too, will share in the good harvest. The same principle applies here: Is it too much to ask that we would be compensated materially for planting life- and world-changing spiritual realities? If you have rightfully supported others, shouldn’t we deserve your support even more?

But we have never insisted on this right; instead, we would rather put up with anything than to put some obstacle in the way that prevents even one person from experiencing the good news of the Anointed One. Perhaps it has escaped your notice that leaders and priests of the temple make their livings off the temple and that those who tend the altar eat their dinners from part of the sacrifices. So it shouldn’t be a stretch that the Lord has arranged for preachers of the gospel to make a living by those who have embraced and been liberated by the gospel.

(1 Corinthians 9:1-14)

Response in Prayer

Father, I thank You for those who have given their lives to serve as ministers, pastors, missionaries, elders, overseers, and special servants in Your service. I thank You for the things they have taught me. I thank You for the sacrifices they have made to serve You. I thank You that they have been present to bless others, and me, in emergencies and other times of need. Thank You for their examples of faithfulness. Please bless them and give me a willing heart to follow, affirm, and support their work. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.