Cherishing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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There are so many various directions that a text like 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 can take you, that’s it’s tough to stay on track.  My hope from Sunday was to make sure that we noticed/remembered the context of 1 Corinthians 8 because it plays itself out in 1 Corinthians 9.  As you’ve heard me say before, context matters.  And the context of that text, in the middle of Paul’s teaching on biblical rights/freedoms, helps us see 1 Corinthians 9 correctly.  

Now, there are several applications that we could draw out of that passage and I want to do that in this blog post.  So, here are a couple of applications from 1 Corinthians 9:1-18, that aren’t the main point of the text, but are applications we can draw out of that text.  

Financial Giving to Your Local Church

Verses 11-12 are primary reasons to give to your local church.  Here’s what those verse say: “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?”  Paul’s point in these verses that if he (as the leader/apostle/planter of the church in Corinth) sowed spiritual things among them (preached the gospel and taught them God’s word), then it’s important that he reap material things (financial offerings) for that.  

So, the principle goes, the ones who sow spiritual things among you, should reap material things from you.  They have this right and privilege to earn their living from the gospel.  

Implied in this is that if you receive spiritual benefit from your local church, you should be giving to your local church.  

Inevitably, when this is brought up, people ask me, “well, should I give 10% to my local church or something else?”  And my reply is usually something like this:

  • When dealing with giving, we have to start with this premise, God owns everything and that includes what we would call our income.  
  • In the Old Testament, God commanded the people of God to give the first fruits of their crops/animals (this would be our income) to the Temple to support the ministry of the Temple and the activities that went on there.  
    • But also in the Old Testament, God told His people to give another 10% of their income to the Temple. This “tithe” was to do a few things:
      • Support the salaries and care of their priests.
      • Support the needy.
      • Support their celebrations and festivals.  
    • At different times in the Old Testament, God called His people to give freewill offerings and even every 3 years they were called upon to give another tithe for the poor.  
    • In the OT (and there’s some debate on this), a “tithe” that God required His people was anywhere from 23%-33% of their income.  
  • When we come to the New Testament, we must keep this principle in mind:  what God does not change or clarify in the New Testament from the Old Testament, we must embrace.   
    • So, in 1 Corinthians 9, as mentioned, we see the principle of giving locally to those who serve you spiritually.   See also 1 Timothy 5:17-18
    • And in 2 Corinthians 8, we see the principle of giving to those who are in need.  See also Acts 2:42-46.  
    • And in Philippians 4:15-16, we see that we should give to support the extension of the gospel mission.  
    • And finally, we see in 2 Corinthians 8:7-9 that our giving should be in response to Christ coming for us…For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
    • But here’s what I want you to notice…nowhere in the New Testament does it change the location of our giving (local synagogue to local church) and it doesn’t reasons the principle of giving (support pastors, gospel mission, and celebrations).  But what is clearly adjusted is the motivation for giving…now, we’re giving in response to Christ’s coming for us.  
  • So, with those thoughts as a back drop, here’s where I tell people…if the OT “tithe” was 10%, then that would be the minimum that I should think about giving, if my giving is in response to Christ’s coming.  
  • But let me add one other thing to this that’s really important.  Often, we think giving is because the church needs it.  But God’s word seems to indicate that giving is more for you than it is for the church.  2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”  Notice clearly…the one who sows, reaps (either sparingly or bountifully).  God loves people who give gladly and God loves to somehow bless/encourage/provide for those who do.  I heard a guy say one time, “If we give to God, what is God’s, when we go through an emergency, God will pay for that with His money.  But if we withhold from God, what is God’s, when we go through an emergency, we will pay for that with our money.” Without getting all “prosperity gospel” here, there is a wonderful and amazing principle:  Give to God what is God’s and watch God provide for you in ways that will amaze you.  

So, to close this section off, by saying…the church is not in financial crisis, nor is the pastor begging for bread.  But, it is important for you to give to CLF, if you’re benefitting from the spiritual sowing that goes on here.  And, it’s important for YOU to give, because God somehow, someway meets His people when they do.  

Speaking of paying the pastor

I’ve been in churches before that felt the pastor should be like Paul and work with their own hands to pay their bills so the church could support other missionaries.  Praise God that CLF is not like this.  But let me say something about this.

You want a pastor who would do the work of the ministry for free…but you (as a church, as an elder board) should make sure that he doesn’t have to do it for free.  

Listen, there are more misuses to pastoral pay than I can ever list in this blog.  Leer jets, lush houses, exorbitant condos have made paying pastors look like it’s a really bad idea.  But, a truth in Scripture that is misapplied does not mean that it’s untrue.  It’s still a truth.  And it is important that churches take care of those who spiritually sow in their lives.  

You want pastors who care for God’s glory, God’s word, and God’s people.  You want pastors who will go the extra mile and even beyond their job description to serve the people of the church.  This is why you can see an elder/pastor be an elder/pastor long before you actually ordain him to be an elder/pastor.  They should already be doing this type of work and they shouldn’t need to be paid in order to do this work.  

The elders and financial advisory team at CLF have always made sure that I was paid well for my job.  They have also sought to make sure I was taken care of before any extra missionaries were supported.  And they have regularly made it clear that they don’t want me needing to go outside the church for extra income.  I am incredibly grateful for that and I am amazed that I get paid to pastor this church and preach the gospel here each week.  So, let me end this section by saying how grateful I am that CLF has never seen me as a hireling.  She has always known I was her pastor who is here to teach the whole counsel of God.  

From the Cheap Seats:

  • Boy COVID-19 has sure wreaked havoc with the NFL scheduling.   Soon, we’re going to have an NFL game every day of the week!  Is this heaven??  Just kidding.
  • I’m a big Star Wars fan, but I’ve got to say it right here…I’m enduring The Mandalorian, not enjoying it.  Sorry.
  • 4th and 10 from your own 24 yard line down by 4 is not the time to do a fake punt.  I’m not a football coach, but I know that.
  • At least the All Blacks responded and ended their season with a 38-0 thrashing of Argentina.  Rugby is a real man’s game.   

To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.

In Christ, 

Dave York

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I must admit that I’ve always been a bit of a non-traditionalist when it comes to the church history calendar.  I cannot explain it except for my youthful zeal.  Honestly, I’ve watched churches and people observe traditions, without any connect to the gospel, heart-transformation, or life-adjustments and I just haven’t had any flavor for it.  So, I’ve rejected some really good things, like Advent, because I “threw the baby out with the bathwater”. 

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Thoughts From The Retreat

From Thursday-Sunday of this past week, our elders (pastors) and our wives went to Sunriver for our annual Elder/Wives planning retreat.  I thought I would take a few moments in this post to talk about why this is important and what we do while we’re there.  

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