Keeping the Gospel Free (A Preacher with a Price Tag is Anathema)

"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." (1Cor.9:18)

I heard of a recent conversation between two pastors that went something like this:

Pastor A: Do you think we can get AA to come and preach in our church?
Pastor B: Well, he's too big; your church can't afford him.

I was at another place and a pastor began expressing grave disappointment about a preacher/artist whom his friend had invited to come and preach in his television channel. The preacher placed the following demands: To and fro Flight tickets (or reimbursement), 5 Star Hotel room, and 100,000 rupees. The friend chose not to invite him. But, another acquaintance invited the same preacher/artist, and after some negotiation, he accepted to "perform" Gospel songs at their wedding anniversary for (if I'm right, something like) 50,000 rupees.

Now imagine David placing a price on his playing a worship song or Paul quoting a price for sharing Biblical truths at the church in Rome or even Peter refusing an invitation to come and preach at Cornelius' house unless he was willing to pay him a certain amount of money, provide a 5 Star accommodation, and give him a to and fro express ticket.

Now, interestingly, the modern culture has so outgrown the biblical times that people don't find any problem with entertaining and having such entertaining preachers. It's not just about accumulating preachers who can tickle itching ears (2Tim.4:3); but, it's also about people putting up with it if one brings them into bondage, if one devours them, if one takes from them, if one exalts himself, if one strikes them on the face (2Cor.11:20). Salary negotiations in ministry are an accepted norm today. Hirelings get bought into hiring organizations very well.

This is not to mean that preachers should not be given money. But, money doesn't answer all things when it comes to gospel work - unless, of course, one is having a festival more and spiritual work less (Ecc.10:19; Acts 3:6). One way that God has prescribed for His work to be supported is by giving to Him; and one gives to the Lord by giving to those who are fully engaged in the work of the Lord (1Tim.5:17-18; Phil.4:18). But, some may say, "Well, God will provide for His servants if they walk by faith; He fed Elijah by the ravens." That is true. God can. But, the case of Elijah was an exception. The ravens were chosen because the whole kingdom had turned away from God. So, if one thinks that one is an Ahab or a Jezebel, then certainly God doesn't expect them to feed His prophet (3John 1:7).

But, the Gospel is free of charge. One has no authority to charge what one has received freely (Matt.10:8; 1Cor.4:7).

The success of a preacher is not measured by the money he is paid for his preaching. The success is measured by his faithfulness to what God has entrusted to him.

The value of a preacher is not monetarily determined; his value is determined by the blood that Christ shed for him. But does he value that blood above all things or use it to to rope in money?

Can we say along with Paul: "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!" (1Cor.9:16)

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