1 Corinthians 9:3-7  This is my defence to those who sit in judgment on me.  Don’t we have the right to food and drink?  Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?  Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?  Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes?  Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?

When I served in full-time ministry I used to read these verses to feel better about living off the sacrificial generosity of others, and so that I would appreciate more the fact that God’s people were willing to give of their hard-earned substance so that my family and I were provided with all that we needed (and more!) to survive.

But now that I am retired, these same verses speak to me in another way.  I now appreciate how difficult it must have been for Paul to have to write this letter to the Church he had helped to establish and nurture in Corinth!  Consequently, I want to play my part in ensuring that ‘full-time’ Christian workers, pastors, missionaries, etc, are not only adequately provided for, but, more importantly, that they are never put into a position in which Paul and Barnabas found themselves.  I think about the Apostle’s words in another letter he had to write to this ‘difficult’ group of believers: “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised.  Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” (2 Corinthians 9:5).

Am I generous in my regular giving to the Lord’s work?  Do I make an extra effort to let my Pastor and missionary friends know that I am more than happy to contribute ‘generously’ to funds that enable them to continue with the valuable work they are doing?  Or do I run the risk of leaving them to feel a bit like Paul and Barnabas did in 53 AD?
– Bruce Christian