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Why Feed The Ox?
A lot of people have the idea that ministers are supposed to eat air and weave garments from moonbeams. But the Apostle Paul says:
3 This is my answer to those who question my authority. 4 Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? 5 Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife[b] with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?
7 What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? 8 Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? 9 For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? 10 Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.
11 Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? 12 If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.
13 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. 14 In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it. (1 Corinthians 9:3-14 New Living Translation NLT)
Paul repeats the same theme again:
1 Timothy 5:17 NLT Elders who do their work well should be paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “Do not keep an ox from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”
Unfortunately most Christians are conveniently confident that someone else is paying the minster. When I was practicing law no one ever came seeking my help expecting that it was going to be free or that some other client would be picking up the tab. My legal clients were happy to pay and the more I charged the happier they seemed.
Ministers on the other hand have historically been treated pretty badly when it comes to pay. Even the Apostle Paul is having to remind the people he ministered to of the obvious. One of the saddest scriptures in the Bible is:
Philippians 4:15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.
I heard a minister tell a story about how when he was a kid his parents were missionaries in Egypt. Every so often they'd receive a barrel of stuff from America. One time they received a barrel and they were all excited to open it up and see what great things the generous Christians had sent to support them while they were in a foreign land preaching the Gospel. They opened the barrel and it was full of used tea bags. Some religious genius had apparently gotten the idea that everybody should bring their used tea bags to church so they could send them to the missionaries. Wow…that's Christians for you. Reminds me of this scripture:
Matthew 25:40 NLT And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
So don't be one of those penny pinching, tight wad, el cheapo Christians. If this ministry has been a blessing to you then please feed the ox.