Building up believers and the New Testament church

New Testament Giving

Supporting Those Who Labor in the Gospel

The life principle always sees the needs of others and gives of itself to meet those needs. The Word exhorts us to know those who labor among us, and we should take heed to the Word of God. I Thessalonians 5:12-13 instructs us, "But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another." Every Christian should realize the needs of those who labor among them. True ministers of God are not laboring for gain, but neither are they on charity, nor should God's people make them beggars. They do have a right to be supported, according to the Word of God. I Timothy 5:17-18, "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,' and, 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'"

We see this same principle again in I Corinthians 9:9-11, "For it is written in the law of Moses, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.' God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the ploughman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?" So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. We do not see that the New Testament provides for fixed amounts, such as salaries, to be paid regularly. But spiritual brethren should realize the needs. If God's ministers care for spiritual needs, should not the people see the ministers' temporal needs and give out of love to meet them? The Word has told us that the laborer is worthy of his hire. This should not be a demand by the minister or the one laboring, but a recognition by those who receive the ministry, and giving from a heart of love--love being the force which moves us to meet the need. A true minister does not labor for money, but because of the love that is working in his heart. He labors whether or not anyone gives to meet his needs. But if God's people allow those who labor among the local brethren to look as if they were on charity, then our testimony of His life and love is not a glory to God.

Even as instruction is given in this matter of giving, God's people must not become carnal or take things into their own hands; they should be led by the Spirit. This is the only way of life for every believer. Man's programs need some means of support for their ministers, so as Hebrews 7:5 tells us, "The sons of Levi have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law." But God's children could never be truthful with His Word and bring this commandment over into the church. So we do need God's program for the church; we need the Spirit to reveal the heart of God on this matter. The church has one purpose in the world: to express the life of God. This can only be seen when each member is taken up with doing His will.