Did you know that as a believer in Jesus Christ God has entrusted you with something so valuable that it is priceless? Its value is beyond measure and it is not for sale. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3, Paul describes his ministry to the Gentiles as containing â€œthe unsearchable riches of Christ.â€ Paul so loved the gospel that he would not receive money for preaching it. His reward was in knowing that he was faithful in his stewardship to preaching the gospel:
â€œBut I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.â€ (1 Corinthians 9:15-18)
Well there you have it Bro Dave, right there in the Bible! We shouldnâ€™t be paying pastors! No, not quite. Shepherds earn their wages by watching over their flock. A pastor of a church is called to lead the flock and equip them to grow as disciples. A pastorâ€™s salary is not at all what Paul is describing here. He is talking about the peddlers of Christ who existed back then and still do today.
Profiteers of the gospel, those who love money more than the aletheia truth, are dealt with harshly by God. If you read Acts 5 you will be reminded of how God killed Ananias and Sapphira for their deceit and love of money. If you or I went through what the Apostle Paul went through for the sake of the gospel, or even those peddling Jesus, all of us would say the money isnâ€™t worth it!
God wants us to come willingly; to give of our tithes and offerings with a joyful heart; to give of our time to the gospel with an expectant heart. When we share the good news of Jesus Christ, when we give time to the ministries of our local church, our reward is in the joy we receive in seeing the miraculous healing power in the lives of those who will submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. And this joy spreads among the people:
â€œNow the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.â€ (Nehemiah 11:1-2)
Imagine the state of the Church if everyone served expecting to profit from it? Well, you can look around today and see the results of that. Thereâ€™s an old but true clichÃ© about serving in the church: 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Why is that? Because the 80% who do little if any serving in their local church are grace sponges, meaning they soak up the grace of God flowing through the lives of the 20% serving God faithfully. And those 80% wonder why they â€œdonâ€™t get anything out of churchâ€ except maybe â€œa good messageâ€ (providing the pastor is preaching from the NTFV Bible â€“ New Touchy Feely Version).
Beloved, our King Jesus is Sovereign of the Universe and He will reign whether we join Him or not. And if we are to be called His people, then we are entrusted with the stewardship of His gospel and we are expected to serve Him.
King David wrote this about the Messiah:
â€œYour people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. The Lord has sworn and will not relent, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.â€ (Psalm 110:3-4)
Let me ask you a very personal question, and this is directed at those who profess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Are you serving in at least one ministry in your church? If you are, then I want to thank you for relieving the burden from one of the 20%. The Lord bless you so!
If you are not, then I have a harsh word for you, given in love and without apology. Shame on you! You need to leave the 80% who are sponging off the 20% and serve willingly in your local church. Trust this former sponge, you receive a far greater reward than what you think you are getting now.
Dear ones, the Lord Jesus needs more than just your tithes and offerings. Do not pat yourself on your back for tithing regularly to your local church. That would be like every law-abiding citizen patting themselves on the back for not breaking the law. And if you are expecting applause for the freewill love offerings you give, may I tell you that you do so from a wicked heart! Our love offering is to be an act of worship:
â€œAccept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your judgments.â€ (Psalm 119:108)
Would to God that more Christians would understand that the stewardship of the gospel has been entrusted with us; that we have the great privilege and awesome responsibility to serve the Lord and tell the lost world around us about Jesus Christ.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, I did not start out this morning intending to offend anyone, I just feel this strong insistence from the Holy Spirit that I remind each of us, me mostly, that when we realize what it is God has entrusted us with, and when we begin to serve faithfully and willingly, then our reward is great.
And one of those great rewards is the encouragement we receive from one another.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright Â© 2012 David Jeffers