Thursday 3 September, 2015
1 Corinthians 9:1-14
WHO SUPPORTS PAUL?
Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?(vs 13)
I was talking to a young woman on a zero-hours contract. ‘The trouble is,’ she said, ‘I’m the only one in my family working now and because I’m on the minimum wage, we’re struggling.’
‘How many of you are in the family?’ I asked.
‘Four,’ she said, ‘My brother’s at college and my parents worked at that big store that closed on the main road.’
Temporary work and flexibility in the workforce create a climate, for many, where certain opportunities never occur. The thought of having further education, buying a home or other opportunities to grow and develop were not in this young woman’s mind: she was wrapped up in supporting the family. Her story is repeated throughout the world.
Paul was thinking about earning his keep in Corinth. He clearly felt that he deserved to receive a material reward for his spiritual work. His words ‘Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes?’ (verse 7) resonate with Isaiah’s promise that ‘they will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit’ (Isaiah 65:21).
Just reward for labour is something to long for. Many people work hard but see little reward, while some others earn far more than they need. Paul stands with the prophets when he challenges the way things are. He knew that he deserved the Corinthians’ support and he was willing to ask for it.
Prayer † Father, so often I deserve your condemnation for my failures, evil and stupidity. Thank you that you are a God of compassion and forgiveness. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.