SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (December 16, 2013)
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches” Galatians 6:1-6.
“CARRY EACH OTHER’S BURDENS AND IN THIS WAY YOU WILL FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST” Galatians 6:2.
In this edition we want to concentrate on what Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:6. In the previous edition we discussed the need for Christians to remember that we shall give account before the Lord and therefore learn to carry our own load instead of concerning ourselves with other people. This does not mean we should not help those who are in need of encouragement or any other support, rather, it means we should know that at the end of everything, we shall be required to account before the Lord as individuals not as groups. In verse 6, Paul exhorted believers in this way:
“ANYONE WHO RECEIVES INSTRUCTION IN THE WORD MUST SHARE ALL GOOD THINGS WITH HIS INSTRUCTOR.”
This statement by Paul can be helpful to the body of Christ depending on how one interprets it or who interprets it. People can interpret any passage of scripture to mean what they want it to mean and that can be very harmful to the body of Christ.
WHAT PAUL IS TALKING ABOUT HERE IS THAT BELIEVERS WHO RECEIVE THE WORD OF GOD FROM TEACHERS OF THE WORD SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR TEACHERS.
This has been abused in many Christian circles because some people who preach the word have used this to distort money and other materials from their hearers. This is the negative side of it. It is not wrong for preachers to receive gifts of any kind from their hearers; neither is it wrong for pastors or church leaders to receive gifts from members of their congregations. What is however wrong is the means by which some ‘so-called’ men and women of God use to extort money from those they share God’s word with. I would like to say at this point that being a pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, prophetess, or whatever title you may be using as a servant of God is not a vocation; it is a calling. It is not a trade which is learned in order to make a living out of. It is a calling of God. It is a privileged position into which God has called us and we have gladly accepted. It is not the place to enrich ourselves. It is a calling to partake in the blessings and sufferings of Christ and he who has called and commissioned us is the one who will take care of us. If we understand our ministry as a calling, we shall depend on God for his providence and not look up to men for survival.
Unfortunately, many people see it differently and have abused their calling. Many preachers of today even negotiate how much they will be given for sharing the word of God before accepting to do so. It is indeed true that we all need to eat to live; but it is not true that we have to use every available means to make money as workers of God. How much did we pay for our salvation? What pledge did we make to Christ before entering into ministry? How about those who sell items in their churches at exorbitant prices because they could make the people believe the items are able to bring healing, successes of any kind or destroy evil powers? Is that what Christ taught us as believers. Many ‘poor’ people in the church are becoming poorer because of the extortionist strategies of some pastors. I believe strongly that this is unfair and a direct contradiction to what Jesus taught us saying,
“FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY YOU MUST GIVE” Matthew 10:8.
Those of us using Galatians 6:6 to extort money from innocent Christians should re-think about their actions.
The fact that some pastors and teachers of the word of God are misapplying Galatians 6:6 does not mean those of us who are blessed by their ministries should ignore their needs. Those who receive spiritual truth from true people of God must also think of both the spiritual and physical needs of their teachers. Just as it is bad to see some church leaders living in affluence and caring not or less about the poor and needy members among within their congregations, it is very shameful for members of the church to enjoy financial and material prosperity while their teachers and pastors wallow in abject poverty. There are some pastors who cannot afford three-square meals a day while their members may even eat and throw lots of food away. I know a pastor whose children dropped out of school because he could not afford to pay their fees; yet in that same church, most of the members are blessed with material blessings. We should all be sensitive to the material needs of those who are used by God to bless us through the sharing of his word. When we close our eyes to the needs of God’s people while we have more than enough for ourselves, we are being ungrateful not only to the preachers, but also to God. After all, if we do not do it for God’s people, we are not doing it for God.
In Jesus’ first sending out of his disciples in Matthew 10, he told them not to take extra clothes or pack extra food. This does not mean that Jesus did not see the need for them to eat or dress while on mission for God. Jesus was teaching his disciples to trust God for his provision while at the same time teaching the hearers to bless his disciples with their physical needs. It is important for hearers of God’s word to know that even though it is God who has called his servants and will always provide for their needs, he works through men and that he uses those who receive the word to be a blessing to those who have dedicated themselves to the studying and the proclamation of God’s word. This implies that hearers of the word have a responsibility toward those who bring the word to us.
We cannot run away from such responsibility. We must make our teachers and pastors’ needs our needs as well. Do not watch your pastor going hungry or being thrown out of his house because he could not afford to pay rent and other bills when you could help. If you starve your pastors or make them live like paupers you will be contributing to the increase in corrupt teachers and preachers of the word. This is because some pastors and teachers may not be able to resist the temptations and will soon begin to dilute the gospel in order to make ends meet. But I should be quick to add that we have no justification as teachers and preachers of the word to become corrupt and dilute the gospel simply because our hearers refused to support us. They did not call us; it is the Lord who called us. Therefore in times of our needs, we must look up to God and not to men . As hearers, we should also not forget what Paul said to the believers concerning the need to support teachers of God’s word as follows:
“FOR SCRIPTURE SAYS, “DO NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT IS TREADING OUT THE GRAIN,” and “THE WORKER DESERVES HIS WAGES” 2 Timothy 5:18.
It is my prayer that as teachers of God’s word we should understand our calling and trust God no matter the financial and material challenges. And as hearers of the word, we should also know that we have a responsibility towards those sent by God to bring us his word on daily, weekly or whatever basis. We must be generous to them and the Lord will continue to bless us. LET US ALL BE RESPONSIBLE!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 6
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 5
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 4
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 3
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 2
Exhortations for Good Christian Living – Part 1
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.