February 4

1 Corinthians 9:16-18

“What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.” vs. 18

Paul was under attack by some opponents for profiting from his work as an apostle. He bristled at the charge and responded in a typical Pauline way. First he says that he has a right to receive compensation–a worker deserves to be paid! But then he tells them that he will accept no payment for his work as apostle–he proclaims the gospel free of charge! And that is enough reward for him! This wasn’t the last time such an issue has come up in the church. There’s always been a certain amount of tension that revolves around clergy pay. Congregations generally agree that their pastors and staff deserve compensation, and most are well cared for. But some religious leaders have discovered ways to turn the preaching of a prosperity gospel into enormous profit for themselves and their families. They say that God rewards faith materially and that their followers therefore expect them to live extravagantly. Some have amassed fortunes in excess of a billion dollars–and they say proudly, “See how God has blessed me!” In general though such “evangelism” does nothing to enhance the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, people are put off by such excesses, and the gospel is diminished. And we can be sure that Paul would not be impressed!

Thought for the Day: Why are scam artists attracted to religion?

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