Forgive Me This Wrong

By Johnie Edwards

It is wrong for a church not to pay a man for preaching and it is wrong for the preacher not to take pay for preaching.

Do you recall something the apostle Paul apologized for? In writing the Corinthians, Paul penned, “For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong” (2 Cor. 12:13).

1. Our Preacher Takes No Pay. I heard a man say recently, “Our preacher will not take any pay for preaching, for he thinks it’s not right.” My friend, it’s not good for churches, for a preacher not to take pay! The Bible teaches that Paul took wages from churches. “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (2 Cor. 11:8). When men teach that it is wrong for a preacher to be paid a stipulated wage, they are binding where God has not bound! The word “wage” in this passage is the same word used in Roman 6:23, where it is said, “For the wages of sin is death.” Are the wages of sin fixed?

2. Preachers Should Live of the Gospel. Those who think it wrong to pay preachers ought to read 1 Corinthians 9:14, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” This has no reference to the fact that a preacher should live by the teachings of the gospel, but that he can be supported by such work.

3. Laborers Are Worthy of Their Reward. As Paul writes about supporting elders, “. . . who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim. 5:18). He wrote, “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, the labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Tim. 5:18). Surely the farmer would not object to feeding his ox corn that he works to tread out. Neither should churches refuse to pay for the labor done in the Lord’s vineyard!

4. Non-Paying Churches Are Inferior. Paul told the Corinthian Church that they “. . . were inferior to other churches” (2 Cor. 12:13) because he had not taken wages from them while preaching the gospel. I know some churches that will put all of their funds into a meeting-house and not have enough money left to support a preacher, but will let other churches support their preacher. A failure to pay their preacher makes them, Paul said, inferior! You don’t want to be a member of an inferior church, do you? Then, get to supporting your own preacher. I have been in meetings with churches whose attendance runs 75 or more and their preacher is getting outside support. One religious body operates on the premise that every ten families can support a full-time preacher. What’s our problem? Some- body is simply not giving as they should (1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:35; Luke 6:38).

5. Forgive Me This Wrong. Paul asked the Corinthian Church to “forgive me this wrong” (2 Cor. 12:13). It is wrong for a church not to pay a man for preaching and it is wrong for the preacher not to take pay for preaching. Why is it wrong? First, the Holy Spirit said it was wrong. A failure for the preacher to take pay from a church for preaching makes for a lazy, indifferent church. They have no motive to give.