There are a lot of moochers who mooch off ministers and their ministries!
To obtain something without paying for it.
A person who lives off others without giving anything in return.
These moochers literally suck the life out of the very person who is serving them life giving spiritual food!
Paul the apostle, who supported his ministry by making tents so that he would not financially burden the churches he founded and ministered in, taught the importance of not mooching off ministers and their ministries. In other words, Paul chose not to practice what he preached!
He said, “Do not muzzle an ox while he is threshing.”¹ This was a direct quote from Deuteronomy 25:4. Immediately following that Old Testament quote Paul clarified what Moses meant when he said not to muzzle an ox. “9 God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?”
Paul is clearly revealing that what God said through Moses in the Old Testament was an analogy for Christian ministers and their ministry. In other words, the ‘ox’ represents those called to carry the burden of feeding the people of God spiritual food. God’s burden bearers should never be muzzled while they are working. To muzzle means so much more than to silence. It means to silence through starvation. What Paul is saying is that it is not God’s will for those feeding us not to be fed by us through their material support.
Paul also said this about being a burden bearer. “17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”² Again, Paul equates feeding and financially supporting the person laboring at preaching and teaching God’s Word to God’s people.
Look at what Paul says about bearing burdens in the context of his personal ministry. “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”³ This statement followed an extensive listing of his spiritual resume of suffering extreme opposition to his ministry.
There is extreme pressure on everyone whether they are in market place ministry or preaching and teaching ministry. But the added pressure that is placed upon those who accept the call of God to feed the people of God life giving food is extremely difficult to bear, especially if those carrying the weight of that responsibility have to scrounge for food and finances to pay their personal bills.
I discovered the following verses many years ago and was, and continue to be convicted by them. They are found in 3 John 1 – “5 Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; 6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”
John is writing to express his pleasure in the saints who worshiped in Gaius’s home. These saints had the reputation of radical generosity toward those ‘strangers’ who came in the Name [of Jesus] bringing life giving words on behalf of the Name. He is speaking of Christian ministers who itinerated among the various local churches in the various regions that had been evangelized.
And he says, “You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” In essence John is saying the way we treat God’s messengers should be no different than the way we would treat Jesus if He was personally teaching us. They came in His Name, as His representatives, and God’s people should honor God by honoring them. That is a lofty responsibility! At least that is how I view that statement.
John continues by saying these burden bearers of the Good News do not look to the unsaved population [Gentiles] for their support. They are depending totally on the radical generosity of the present recipients of God’s goodness to send them to their next assignment fully fed and funded so they will be strong and able to fully deliver fresh food to the people they are ministering to when they leave.
John concludes by stating that when God’s people fund God’s ministry through His burden bearers those who generously financially support them are fellow workers, or co-laboers, in the truth with them. This is a vitally important truth. The funders get the same credit in heaven as the feeders! If they do not muzzle them by withholding food and finances.
With the explosion of social media and other ways to communicate God’s truth [His Word], there are a lot of people feeding from the food of God’s ministers without paying for that food. They read posts, blogs, watch or listen to live streamed messages, archived teachings on YouTube, Facebook and other places where kingdom food is prepared and presented. And they never financially support those who work hard at preaching and teaching. This is the reason we at Bethel Church in Brunswick, GA never invite a minister to our ‘house’ and charge them for coming by deducting lodging, meals and travel expenses from the love offerings received. In fact, we have always given the Sunday tithes to our guests too. When you sow into the lives of the guest ministers who minster to us, every penny goes directly to them. We take, “send them on their way in a manner worthy of God seriously.
Bethel Church, Brunswick, GA is no moocher!
Maybe you are one of those people who mooch off God and His ministers. If you are not then you are to be celebrated.
Are you a moocher who is muzzling the very ‘ox’ that is feeding you? From heaven’s perspective you would do well if you unmuzzled the minister and ministry that is feeding you spiritual food.
Keep His Faith! Keep His Passion! Keep HIS Purposes!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury
¹ 1 Corinthians 9:9
² 1 Timothy 5
³ 2 Corinthians 11:28