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Plowing In Hope

By Elder Steve Perrigo

Gallatin, TN

How many people would continue to work at a job knowing it did not pay enough to meet their basic needs? Not many! In fact, most people at some point in their lives have had to take low paying jobs on a temporary basis just to have an income. However, they always had hope for either a new, better paying job or a promotion to a better paying job. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but overall, people will find a way to have their needs met including living within their means.

How many people would hire a skilled worker and not expect to pay the prevailing wage for that skill? When you go to the Doctor, do you ask him if he will take less than the fee he charges? If you need the services of an attorney, does he not tell you up front what his fee will be? He will require signed contractual agreement before any services will be rendered. For every profession, there is a rate of payment, a cost of services based upon the market of that skill and the skill of the individual except for one profession. That profession is the ministry of God's Word. The minister's pay is based upon Biblical rates set down by God. In reality, the minister is paid by God through an appointed agency.

What is this agency? It is the Lord's people and his churches. Some will object to the ministry as being a profession, but it is. The men whom God employees in this trade must first be taught and trained for their job. Therefore, when thoroughly equipped, the minister is totally occupied with his calling. It is what he "professes" to be. To be otherwise is to make God's call and provision "of none effect". In other words, the true God called man should be what he claims to be and not something else. He should be occupied in his "profession" or calling.

When Jesus sent out the disciples on their limited missions He gave them instructions on how they were to be sustained. The fact is, He specifically instructed them not to take anything regarding extra provision. Matthew 10:9-AV-NIV Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, * Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 Nor scrip for [your] journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. Why would Jesus send these men out if didn't expect them to be sustained? What would that be saying about God the Father if these men had to be self-sufficient while under orders from their Master, their King? He would be accused of being a poor provider; one who couldn't be trusted. This type of argument is always being introduced into the minds of men by Satan. He wants to keep people in bondage to their selfish wills. Jesus says the workman is worthy. The reproach comes upon Christ when people do not support the ministry and in effect say, the workman is not worthy, therefore Jesus Christ is not worthy. Satan's total purpose is to diminish, if not destroy the work of Jesus Christ. He is very effective when he deceives people through covetousness.

God set the rate of payment when He gave the Law to Moses. Numbers 18:21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, [even] the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Numbers 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, [even] a tenth [part] of the tithe. These verses describe the rate of pay as God set forth. The tithe, or tenth, was given to all the Levites for their services to God. All that was collected was distributed to the Levites and then they gave their tithe of that which was given them. In other words, they got 90% of everything that was collected. According to the scripture record, while the people obeyed God's commands, they all prospered. If our government would follow this example today, we would prosper in our country also.

What happened when they failed to give the tithe? Nehemiah 13:10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given [them]: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. If you didn't get paid, what would you do? The Levites had to leave the work of the Lord's house to see to their own welfare and to provide for their families. What resulted from this neglect? This is the comments of Matthew Henry on this section of scripture, ....."If a sacred character will not keep men from setting an evil example, it must not shelter any one from deserved blame and punishment. The Levites had been wronged; their portions had not been given them. They were gone to get livelihoods for themselves and their families, for their profession would not maintain them. A maintenance not sufficient, makes a poor ministry. The work is neglected, because the workmen are. Nehemiah laid the fault upon the rulers. Both ministers and people, who forsake religion and the services of it, and magistrates, who do not what they can to keep them to it, will have much to answer for." The result was a people who had not been taught and therefore had defiled themselves. Not to mention that everything was in shambles after being overtaken by their enemies. Could this not be the case with our churches today who do not give adequate support to the ministry? Our families are in shambles, our lives are a mess; we have become as slaves to our jobs and our employers. Also, as it was in the time of Nehemiah, the rulers of the people had exacted huge taxes upon the people bringing them into poverty. Can we not relate to this?

Some will, no doubt, argue we are no longer under the law, but under grace. This argument will not stand the test of the scriptures. When one is saved, the law is written upon the "fleshly tables of the heart". This changes one and motivates the one changed to obey all of God's Word, not just selected passages. Furthermore, we begin by showing that Jesus followed the pattern and set it for us today. The Apostle Paul gave detail instruction regarding support of the ministry in ICor. chapter 9. Paul in this chapter quotes Old Testament scripture as a basis for supporting the gospel ministry. Let us look at verses 7 through 14:

7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

10 Or saith he [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, [this] is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, [is it] a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

12 If others be partakers of [this] power over you, [are] not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

What are "spiritual things"? Is not preaching the Gospel a spiritual thing? Is not teaching and exhortation spiritual things. Does not the ministry of the Word involve your eternal interests? In the terms of the Apostle Paul, "he that ploweth should plow in hope". Part of the reward for service to God is in receiving, or reaping, an earthly support, as stated in verse 11, "carnal things". This has been appointed, ordained, by the Lord, verse 14.

B. H. Carroll makes comments on this section of scripture on page 163 of his commentary on James, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians. The following is an excerpt; "Wherever there is no adequate provision for ministerial support, and the preacher must do things for his living, run a farm or practice medicine, we may rest assured that he cannot give his undivided attention to the ministry, and that churches that receive that kind of ministry do not receive the full work of the ministry. The calamity in that case is on the church. Oftentimes it is downright covetousness that is the cause of it..........

I have always taken this position: If any preacher, truly called of God to preach, will implicitly trust, not the churches, but the Lord Jesus Christ, to take care of him, and will consecrate his entire time to the work of the ministry, verily he shall be clothed and fed, or else the heavens will fall, and God's word will not be so."

Just as the Levites received support, so also should those who "labor in the word". It is God who gives us all things liberally. Remember, it is God who calls that man to His service. What kind of reflection is there upon God when God's people fail to provide support. If he is not compensated properly, Satan and his spokesmen have occasion to slander God. Do you know what a pastor faces when he is employed at public work? He is subjected to questioning by people of other denominations causing him to have to justify his actions. He is constantly being subjected to those who slander God's name and in effect, he is put to shame by being in their company. They try to catch him in a weak moment so they can accuse him of his sins. His life is a public spectacle. Put yourself in the minister's place. Could you exist as he must? The effectiveness of the gospel ministry is greatly hindered unless the one who labors in this fashion does so voluntarily, as the Apostle Paul did, in order to advance the Kingdom of God. Study carefully I Cor. & II Cor. Is your pastor plowing in hope?

Could Your Church Support

A Full Time Pastor?

How many tithing members would it require to support a pastor full time? The answer is 10. If only 10 members gave a tenth of their yearly earnings the pastor would receive an averaged yearly income equal to the congregation he serves. For example if 10 members made $30,000 per year and gave yearly a tenth ($3,000), then 10 times $3,000 equals $30,000, enough to support a full time pastor. Of course one of those ten tithing members will be the pastor himself so the answer could also be 9.