Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from
the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get
a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that
those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit
from it. Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing
this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than
lose my right to boast about preaching without charge.
1 Corinthians 9:13-15
The story goes about a newly married couple’s first argument. The man told his new wife he wanted her to get up in the morning before he did, make a pot of coffee and prepare a breakfast of two cooked eggs (over easy), three sausage links and two pieces of wheat toast so when he got up 30 minutes later it would all be waiting. In the divorce papers, she put down the reason for the divorce was that her husband accidentally married her when he mistook her for a Waffle House waitress!
Demanding things is never good. If you have ever had to deal with someone who regularly makes demands, you quickly come to realize the relationship has many struggles and has great potential to fail totally. A demand is defined as “an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right.” It is often bred from a sense of entitlement…that we are owed something.
The reality is when we believe something is owed to us often times that belief is followed by a demand that it be given to us. In chapter 9 of 1st Corinthians, Paul references the rule God had ordained through the Law, that those who serve in the temple are able to eat portions of the offerings given by the people. Under the Law, it was their right and a way in which they could be provided for as they served God.
He used this principle to show the members of the early church their responsibility to serve the needs of those (such as himself and other elders), who served in the church. However, even though God had said it was required of the people to support those in ministry, Paul refused to demand that support. In fact, Paul was a tentmaker who used that trade to support himself when needed. He could have demanded the churches provided for him but didn’t because he knew the support he would be given would come from a begrudging rather than a sincere heart. He even references this further in 2 Corinthians 9:7, where he said, “Everyone should give not under compulsion but with a cheerful heart.”
So maybe what we can learn from this passage (other than the truth it is important to support and serve the church today) is that we need to lay down the sin of entitlement and demands and fully trust God in everything. I challenge all of us to examine our hearts, ask God to show us where we have that sense of entitlement and lay it down. Paul did and we can too.