Freely you have received, freely give.
Acts 8:14-40 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” 24 But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
25 So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert road. 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:
“He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 “In humiliation His judgment was taken away;
Who will relate His generation?
For His life is removed from the earth.”
34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
1 Timothy 5:18 says: The Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and, "The worker is worthy of his wages." Jesus Himself quoted that same scripture in Luke 10:7 saying: “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” These and perhaps 1 Corinthians 9:14 which says: In the same way, the Lord has prescribed that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel, are the primary scriptures used when justifying the wages and salaries of those who minister, serving the Lord and the church. I certainly have no problem with those who minister being compensated for their time and ministry. I do wonder though if at times the compensation may be so high that it is hard to continue to call it ministry, for and to the Lord. What Jesus said in Luke 10:7 was when He sent out the disciples to minister. The full verse says: "Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.” The full context of 1 Timothy 5:18 is: The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” I certainly believe that those who minister are worthy of honor and I believe it is up to individual churches to determine the appropriate financial compensation for their pastors and other staff and employees. I also believe that in part, the double honor for many who minister without compensation from man, is the honor and reward they do and will receive from God. They are those who as Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Today’s text brings rise to a related but different subject. It says: Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. When I read this, I can’t help but to think of the multi-million dollar Christian resource industry. Again I believe that those who minister should be compensated and I understand that there are production costs involved in printing books, making videos and recordings, but I wonder if Peter would rebuke those today, who sell for excessive profits, what the Lord has given them freely, for His people. I have personally benefitted from the ministry of well compensated workers. I have read many books, watched many videos and enjoyed many recordings. I have neither an answer as to what is the proper level of compensation nor judgment against those who market and sell what the Lord has given them. In the end what matters is whether people are blessed and the kingdom of God increases, matures and advances. I think Paul says it well in 1 Corinthians 3:5-15 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
In Matthew 10:7-8, when Jesus sent the disciples out, He said: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” What I really want to do is give double honor and pray for abundant blessings, to thank the many who minister, giving freely what God has given them. There are many who actually sacrifice and pay to minister, share the gospel and be Christ to the world. For all those who have sacrificed to be on mission fields around the world, for those who travel and bring words of revelation and exhortation, miracles of healing, deliverance and conversions to the world and the church, trusting in what the Lord will provide, for all those who share their talents and gifts ministering and serving in churches, whether in the pulpit, leading worship, teaching children or taking out trash, may you be doubly honored and blessed.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that You would richly bless those who labor that Your kingdom would come. Amen.