Why give to the church? Tithes aren’t a New Testament command.
Many Christians try to make this argument. And quite frankly, I agree that tithing isn’t a New Testament command. But supporting our pastors financially is.
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? (7)
In short, no one. And the point in the latter two illustrations are very clear. If you take care of something, you should be able to reap the benefits from that which you care for. If you care for a vineyard, you should be able to eat some of the grapes. If you take care of a flock of goats, you should be able to drink their milk.
And if a pastor is caring for a church, he should be able to reap the benefits from those whom he ministers to.
Paul then buttresses his argument by pointing to the law of Moses where God said an ox that plows the grain should be able to eat some of the grain that falls to the ground. And he points out that God is not so much interested in oxen as he is people. He thus stretches the illustration to include the people working in the field, that they also should reap the benefits of their work. And then he applies it to ministers of Christ, saying,
If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? (11-12a)
Paul goes on saying that temple workers get to eat the temple food, and that the priests who offer the sacrifices get to eat from the meat.
Paul then concludes by saying,
In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (14)
Now Paul gave up that right for his own reasons. But that doesn’t mean we should force our pastors to live like Paul did, working second jobs to get by.
Why not? Because when our pastors are forced to work second jobs, it takes time away from ministering to us. It takes away from their message prep time. It takes away from time they could use visiting and counseling the people in the church. It takes away from their time praying for the people in the church.
The church I attend is only 10 years old, and so for some time, our pastor has taken a lower salary while we have been building our congregation, and as a result he has had to work part-time jobs in the past. Our assistant pastor hasn’t had a salary from the church for years, so he too has had to split his time. Because of the financial situation of the church, there’s been no way around it.
And if that’s the way it has to be, then pastors will do what they have to. My pastors have and I am so grateful to them.
But it’s not ideal. And if we are going to force our pastors to take second jobs, then there’s no way we should be complaining if we don’t feel they’re giving the time to us that we’d like.
Jesus has commanded that we take care of our pastors financially. How about you? Are you doing your part?