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Not Makin' This Up!

It's right there in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 9.8-12

1 Corinthians 9 (2)

Pray Psalm 19.7, 8.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

Sing Psalm 19.7, 8.
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure;
the simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.

Read 1 Corinthians 9.1-12; meditate on verses 8-12.

1. What did Paul say about oxen?

2. What was his point in saying that?

“I’m not makin’ this up!” Paul wrote. He had just convicted the Corinthians of yet another failure of love, that they did not support him during the time he ministered the Word among them. He had to have a day job and depend on other believers to meet his needs.

To some hearing this letter read, that might have sounded a bit self-serving, something Paul made up. But Paul pointed to the Law of God and its teaching about allowing oxen, as they are threshing corn, to feed on the corn—to meet their needs at the expense of those for whom they worked (cf. Deut. 25.4). Paul insisted that, while this statute from the civil law was true for oxen, it is also true for those to whom any fair recompense is due (v. 10), including those who sow good Kingdom seed into the soil of believers’ souls (v. 11; cf. 1 Cor. 3.5-8). The Corinthians had neglected Paul financially, and they needed to know that.

Paul chose not to invoke this right while he was working among the Corinthians (v. 12); but part of teaching people to love is pointing out any failures of love that are present in them. And it is instructive to see that Paul used the Law of God both to indict the Corinthians of their sin (cf. Rom. 7.7) and to point them to the way of love (cf. Matt. 22.34-40).

Paul used the Law analogically here, deriving a principle from this statute which derives from the eighth commandment and thus has application for us. Do not allow anyone to tell you the Law of God doesn’t matter. They’re just makin’ that up. Paul is on solid footing when he turns to the Law of God as the ground for Christian ethics.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
As I sit here writing and passing little nibbles of what I am eating to our dogs, I know that God cares about animals. He gives us these dear creatures to love, and be loved by, and other creatures to fulfill a myriad of requirements for life and well-being. We live in Amish country, so horses are still used for transportation; and unless you are a vegetarian, cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens supply food for us to eat.

God established His covenant with man, but He commanded that two (male and female) “of every living thing of all flesh” be brought onto the ark and kept alive (Gen. 6.18, 19). So, when Paul quoted the passage from Deuteronomy 25.4, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain”, he was reminding us that God cares about animals, we should care about animals and their well-being, and that God cares supremely for humankind.

Thus, if animals are to be treated with care and have their needs met, even more so, people should be cared for and have their needs met. And on top of that, if someone is giving their days of work to ministering to our spiritual things, is it too much to ask that they “reap [our] material things?” (1 Cor. 9.11).

“A righteous man regards the life of his animal…” (Prov. 12.10).

“Is it oxen God is concerned about?” (1 Cor. 9.9). Yes and no.
Yes, because God created animals and He cares about all His creation.
No, because at this point Paul is not talking about animals, he is talking about himself.
And about all others who would follow in his footsteps as pastors, teachers, and theologians.

Wouldn’t it be a great idea if every church group did a little math, and found what the median income was of the congregation, and then paid the pastor that? Because no doubt, many a pastor has prayed,
“Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die):
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches—
feed me with the food allotted to me;
lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30.7-9).

Being a minister is not a get rich quick scheme, nor should it be a poverty platform.
It should always be like the porridge, chair, and bed that Goldilocks chose, “Just right”.

Paying a man of God properly is the right thing to do. “Not makin’ this up.”
And give your dog an extra treat.

For reflection
1. Why is Paul’s use here of the Old Testament civil law so important?

2. Why would anyone think that the Old Testament Law was no longer valid and useful?

3. What can you do to improve your ability to benefit (Rom. 7.12) from the Old Testament Law?

Those who seek to do our souls good, should have food provided for them. But he renounced his right, rather than hinder his success by claiming it. It is the people’s duty to maintain their minister. He may wave his right, as Paul did; but those transgress a precept of Christ, who deny or withhold due support.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on the 1 Corinthians 9.1-14

Pray Psalm 19.9-14.
Call on the Lord to guide your steps today by His Word. Let His Spirit search you, to convict you of any sins and to direct your steps in the path of the Lord in that area.

Sing Psalm 19.9-14.
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet;
be warned by every word and line; be blessed with joy complete.

Who, LORD, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me!
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be.
O let my thoughts, let all my words, before Your glorious sight
be pleasing to You, gracious LORD, acceptable and right.

T. M. and Susie Moore

If you would like to learn more about how the Law of God serves as the ground for Christian ethics, order a copy of our book by that name by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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