Job 22 & 1 Corinthians 9

Job 22

    Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

    “Can a man be profitable to God?
        Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
    Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right,
        or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
    Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you
        and enters into judgment with you?
    Is not your evil abundant?
        There is no end to your iniquities.
    For you have exacted pledges of your brothers for nothing
        and stripped the naked of their clothing.
    You have given no water to the weary to drink,
        and you have withheld bread from the hungry.
    The man with power possessed the land,
        and the favored man lived in it.
    You have sent widows away empty,
        and the arms of the fatherless were crushed.
    Therefore snares are all around you,
        and sudden terror overwhelms you,
    or darkness, so that you cannot see,
        and a flood of water covers you.
    “Is not God high in the heavens?
        See the highest stars, how lofty they are!
    But you say, ‘What does God know?
        Can he judge through the deep darkness?
    Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see,
        and he walks on the vault of heaven.’
    Will you keep to the old way
        that wicked men have trod?
    They were snatched away before their time;
        their foundation was washed away.
    They said to God, ‘Depart from us,’
        and ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’
    Yet he filled their houses with good things—
        but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
    The righteous see it and are glad;
        the innocent one mocks at them,
    saying, ‘Surely our adversaries are cut off,
        and what they left the fire has consumed.’
    “Agree with God, and be at peace;
        thereby good will come to you.
    Receive instruction from his mouth,
        and lay up his words in your heart.
    If you return to the Almighty you will be built up;
        if you remove injustice far from your tents,
    if you lay gold in the dust,
        and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed,
    then the Almighty will be your gold
        and your precious silver.
    For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty
        and lift up your face to God.
    You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you,
        and you will pay your vows.
    You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you,
        and light will shine on your ways.
    For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’;
        but he saves the lowly.
    He delivers even the one who is not innocent,
        who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

(Job 22 ESV)

1 Corinthians 9

    Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

    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 that those 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.

    For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

(1 Corinthians 9 ESV)

1 Corinthians 9: In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he defends his “right” to be financially supported for his ministry, and he uses three examples from everyday life to make his point. He mentions that:

  • A soldier is not sent to war at his own expense. 
  • A vineyard owner should be able to eat some of his vineyard’s grapes. 
  • And a shepherd is not expected to care for a flock without being able to also have some of the milk that the sheep provide. 

This is a wonderful analogy that explains the right for those who have devoted their lives to Christian ministry to receive financial support from those that they minister to. Church leaders and ministry leaders serve God’s people by fighting for their protection from the enemy, helping them produce a fruitful harvest, and caring for them like a loving shepherd cares for his sheep. As Christians, we ought to show our gratitude by supporting and taking care of those who have dedicated their lives to serve our spiritual needs. The apostle Paul declared that financial support is a practical way to honor faithful service and hard work for the Kingdom of God.

However, although those who proclaim the gospel have a right to get their living from the gospel, the apostle Paul makes it clear that this is not a right that those in ministry must defend and always claim for themselves. This is a right that must be realized and not required. This is a right that must be sparked by a desire and not a demand. Many in ministry must make no use of this right and must “endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” Basically, if asking for money will compromise your message then it is better to not ask and sacrifice yourself rather than to ask and sacrifice the gospel. 

That being said, take care of those who have shown great integrity in the way that they have served the Lord and served you. Paul encouraged Christians to care for their leaders financially and especially those who were preaching and teaching them the Word of God.

Who are the men (or women) in your life that you have benefited from spiritually and how can you support their ministry? What particular ministries have had a significant impact on your faith and what are ways that you can support their efforts? And what church family do you belong to and how are you helping to support their financial needs? Scripture is clear: We are called to support those who serve us spiritually. How are you caring for those who have dedicated their lives to caring for your soul?