“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. … I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 23 NIV).
The apostle Paul once again whipped the Corinthians with his unapologetic pen as he explains with an “in your face” attitude regarding his rights as servant of Christ. His spirit was screaming at them and reminded them that he does not work for anyone but Christ. Paul warned them that it is God’s principle that those who are called in God’s service shall receive compensation, especially the full-time preachers/teachers/pastors/ etc. However, Paul chose not to take any compensation from anyone for his personal use. He rather chose to employ himself and be a self-supportive for the service of the Lord, and at the same time as a restless apostle. Also, Paul had chosen this route to shut up the devil’s criticism regarding money and of being lazy.
This principle of compensating full-time workers of God was actually originated in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the Levites and other human beings who were assigned to full-time service in the temple, were not allowed to have personal possession and not allowed to work outside of temple duties. God had separated them from any responsibilities on the planet and specifically designated them to only work on the temple. God had placed them there and therefore He provided them for everything they needed. God had made separate allocations of blessings and goods for the Levites, such as food, shelter, clothing, and cash. The goods were collected from the tithes and offerings of the people of Israel.
In 2 Corinthians Chapter 9, Paul boldly rejected his right to receive any compensation (from human beings) although God has chosen him to preach the gospel. Human beings are born evil. They always find fault to anyone and to anything for any reason or even without any reason. Paul made a very smart move when he told his accusers that he did not need their money. Paul knew that human beings can turn around and accuse you (especially if you are getting paid by a church as their preacher) that without their money or financial support, you could have not done anything for the gospel of Christ. They own you and you owed them.
In today’s version, a board of a local church controls everything, even the (hired) pastor’s salary and activities. They even control what the pastor has to preach on Sundays. It is like working on a private company. The company is your boss and the company pays your salary, therefore, the company tells you what to preach and not what to do. Otherwise, take a hike and find a new job. But if you are like Paul, by all means you will follow his footsteps: You are free and belong to no one, owe no one.
This religious tradition is evil. The devil successfully distorted the word of God regarding local church structure and how they handle their money. Many who call themselves “Pastor” thinks that a local church should give them a regular salary, just as though they are working in a secular job for company. No wonder they become hirelings. And hirelings work for the money, not for the “cause.” The “cause” is to preach the Good News, and to make disciples of all nations for Christ.
Of course the “cause” needs great amount of financial support to move on. But this is where God separate the men from the boys. Boys always remain just like boys – they are immature. Men obey and follow the direction of their Master just like Joshua and Caleb – they have a different spirit, the spirit of faith. Real men in the service of Christ work for the cause, not for the money. Real men in the service for Christ know what to do, if the offering plate appears it failed to meet the criteria of a “prosperity gospel.” They maintain their confidence that God is their SOURCE, not human beings.
Live what you preach! If you are preaching the good news, then live according to the good news. If you believe God has called you in His service, then He will provide everything for you. Worry should not be in your vocabulary. God is your SOURCE. Human beings are not your source. God can use anything to provide for you. God can use the incomprehensible for your benefits. God can change the economic system of this world to solve your financial problem (if you have one). God can influence “the law of supply and demand” in your favor just to meet your needs. God can even remove your abusive and domineering superior just to give you peace. God can even wipe out any human built system in order to bless you.
You see, Jesus the Great Teacher, is able to shut up the devil anytime, anywhere, and anyhow. The devil has no ground to accuse Jesus of anything, not even for money. And believers should live and act the same. We are not the victims, but we are the victors. Jesus came to free us from all bondage. We have the good news:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free …” (Luke 4:18 NIV).
The gospel of Christ is freedom from all the bad stuffs in life. It is being free from all negative things in this planet. Every negative thing does not belong to the good news of Christ. Good is good and bad is bad. The gospel is freedom from negative thoughts and negative words. As a child of God, no one can put us in bondage and suck away our freedom in Christ. No one is able to oppress us, control us, depress us, intimidate us, shame us, and bully us.
However, we need to allow this freedom to live active in our spirit, transform our soul, and let ourselves expressed the joy of being free in Christ Jesus. We are blessed in Christ and partakers of the blessings of Abraham. We will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country (Deut 28:3). We will be blessed when we come in and blessed when we go out (Deut 28:6). We will be always at the top, never at the bottom (Deut 28:13). We will never be put to shame (Rom 10:11).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16 NIV).
The gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. Salvation means deliverance and preservation. It is deliverance from bondage and deliverance from the works of the enemy. We have been saved from all darkness, from all sickness, from all destructions, from sin and the effects of sin, from wicked men, and from all evil works.
Jesus declares that His word is freedom and truth. “And you shall know the truth, and that truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Life in Christ is freedom.
The gospel is about freedom. It is being free. No one should control the way you live. No one should control the way you look. No one should control the way you behave. No one should control the way you express your personality. No one should control your lifestyle. No one rules you. And don’t allow that “Control Freak” bully you, dictate you, and force you to submit to him. Only Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings in your life. You do everything for the glory of Christ.
The gospel of Christ is freedom from every work of darkness – the devil. The obvious manifestation of bondage is bondage from the spirit of mammon. The spirit of mammon is the evil power of money. When you place the power of money into the hands of a wrong person, that money becomes an instrument of manipulation, bribe, and corruption. When money is used in manipulation, bribe, and corruption, then evil has and controls the rules.
However, the gospel of Christ only works for those who believe. If you believe, then you will receive the power of the gospel and the salvation. All things are possible for those who believe. You have been set free in Christ.