As I research various topics, I run across many websites from those claiming to follow the Most High God of Scripture where they are selling books, trinkets, asking for donations, etc.
Therefore, I wanted to pose a question to the readers here to see what all of you think is right for believers in regards to selling things specifically meant for other believers and in regards to asking for donations or income.
I found several passages and verses in Scripture which deal with this in some aspect…
1 Tim 5: 17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
I would understand the above passage to mean that the people should take it upon themselves to make sure the leadership in their congregation is taken care of. They are worthy of wages. Does this also mean they should earn twice as much as others who labor? Or is “double honor” something else altogether?
And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple … and said unto them … “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”–John 2:15-16
How do we make the Father’s house a house of merchandise? What is the Father’s house now that the Temple has been destroyed? Would this include making a bible for fishermen, for teens, for women, etc in order to sell more Bibles? Or is this about where it is sold? Or does it mean that when a believer sells this type of thing they should only charge enough for materials and not make a profit? Or something else?
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers AMONG you, who privily (secretly) shall bring in DAMNABLE HERESIES (lies that damn the soul to hell), even denying the Lord that bought them (apostates in leadership positions), and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And MANY shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned (fictitious) words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not…beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children.” 2 Peter 2:1-3,14
This is a warning to watch out for false teachers, tickling the ear, telling lies, who are covetous and use us to make their money.
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Is this referring to the gospel? That is what we freely received, isn’t it? So how does that fit with the other verses? Is this the way those who are in leadership in our local congregations should feel? They offer it for free, but the congregation/listening audience chooses to pay him?
1 Corinthians 9:3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?
8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” 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? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
This seems to be a case of Paul being confusing. He says he is talking to those who examine him. I think he is trying to say that logically anyone who preaches the gospel should be taken care of just like the priests of the temple are provided for in the Torah. But then he goes on to say that he does not take advantage of this personally because he is desiring to offer the gospel without charge.
I know that I so much appreciate men like Keith Green who did not charge people to attend his concerts and if someone couldn’t afford his tapes, they could have it for free. I also dislike it when I order something from a ministry and then get letters or emails every month asking for money. I have had to remove a post recently for this reason. I got some information for free and then at the end… surprise – they want my money! I can’t promote that in good conscience.
What are your experiences? Thoughts? Insights? Feelings?