To Each Man His Due (Compensation)

Let me apologize for Christians who use the name of God or ministry in order to cheat people out of their due compensation or price.

  • “Now, what is your best price for a church?… are you sure about that? What else can you do?”
  • “This is for charity, you know. Dig deeper than that.”
  • “If you had faith, you’d give more.”
  • “You’re doing ‘ministry work,’ you should be happy to get anything at all.”
  • “What? Pay you the average salary for the profession? But, this is the Lord’s work. You’ll have treasure in Heaven.”

I’d just like to say that this kind of attitude, though prevalent, is anything but fair and is completely against Christian ethics and biblical principle. On the other hand, if you are a minister and your people do not give enough to keep you above the poverty level or at a wage competitive with the “market,” even though they expect you to be their pastor “full time,” then that too is a shame and against biblical principle.

Here are some appropriate texts to examine:

  • Leviticus 19:13 (ESV) – “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” [Admittedly, this is on a day-by-day pay system]
  • 1 Corinthians 9:3-18 (ESV) –  “This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded thatthose who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
  • 1 Timothy 5:18 (ESV) – For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
  • James 5:4 (ESV) – Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

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