Jump Start # 3063
1 Corinthians 9:18 “What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.”
Our verse today describes Paul’s special relationship with the Corinthians. By his own choice he had decided to preach to them voluntarily. He was not being paid a wage by the Corinthians, although he understood, and even explained within this setting, that he had the right to be paid. He would say, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing. God is not concerned about oxen, is He?” And, a few sentences later, “If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” Also, “…the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”
These principles show that a preacher can be paid by a church. There is no shame in that. The preacher shouldn’t have to feel like a beggar. Taking care of your preacher is an honor and a privilege for a church. Most preachers are paid a good salary. They should be. They work long, long hours preaching and teaching. However, we often forget that with so many of these preachers, their paycheck doesn’t not include health insurance, social security or any type of retirement. As long as the preacher is preaching, he does ok. Far, far too many preachers get advanced in age and have nothing. We could point our fingers at the preacher for poor money management, or we could look at the church and wonder why they did not consider the future for the one who has worked so hard for them. If all you received as a paycheck and nothing else, how would most of you fare?
Right before our verse, the apostle declared, “For I do this voluntarily…” Paul was not being paid by the Corinthians. He could rightly say, “I offer the gospel without charge.”
But what if the opposite were true? What if Paul charged for the Gospel? When we go out to eat, the bill always comes at the end. When we go to a ballgame or a concert, there is a price of the ticket that we must pay before we can get in.
· If the church sold tickets, few would come. Many already have a funny feeling about TV rich preachers who jet around in private planes and that would only solidify what they suspected, the church is in it for the money. And, not just any money, but, your money.
· If the church sold tickets, many would think that they didn’t get a good deal for what they had to pay. The Gospel was taken freely into all the world. It was to be preached in every land to every person. Not every person could afford the price, if the church charged people to hear a sermon.
· If the church sold tickets there would be a subtle shift from the integrity of the message, to mass marketing and promotional campaigns to draw more people and sell more tickets. Money talks.
The church isn’t in the business of selling the gospel. We travel down unpaved roads when we start thinking this way. The church isn’t a business and it doesn’t conduct itself like a business and it doesn’t look like a business. It’s the body of Jesus Christ. It’s a spiritual organization designed to prepare people for Heaven.
I especially like the expression, “I may offer the gospel without charge.” I knew an attorney, he has since passed away, who milked his clients for everything. A two sentence email to the attorney would generate a bill for over $100. A five minute phone call, and a bill from his office would come in the mail. He charged for everything and anything. He must have thought he was worth it. I didn’t. I found someone else to talk to.
We must keep the Spirit of Jesus before us, who when asked, went. He was never troubled, bothered nor upset to be interrupted, to be asked questions and never did He ask for payment. There are some costs connected to putting these Jump Starts out. But as long as I am alive, the audience, you readers will never be charged. NEVER. There is a cost connected to printing and mailing out our Jump Start books. There are now twenty-six books. But these costs will never be passed on to you readers. NEVER. I want to offer the Gospel for free.
These days, some are charging for special lectureships, get-a-ways, podcasts and other things. I’m sure there are costs involved that they need to recover the money that they have invested to conduct these things. But in charging, some cannot afford and therefore cannot receive the information that is being made available. By charging, some are left wondering, where is the money going? By charging, is the Gospel free anymore?
The important thing is to get the message of Jesus Christ out to as many people as possible. I offer the gospel without charge…
Sure is something to think about.