Paul did not always refuse gifts from the Christians, as Philippians 4:15-18 shows. However, he did not want to receive personal gifts when he was establishing a new church. He did not want the people to hear any appeal from him apart from Godís message (9:12). He did not want them to think that he just wanted money. Godís message was too important for Paul to declare anything else.
God had given Paul the right to receive his wages from the new Christians (9:14).
But God had also made Paul strong enough to do physical work. So Paul made tents to earn money for himself and his companions. When the new Christians wanted to give, Paul collected the money to help poor Christians in Judea (16:1-4).
Many people who work in the churches care too much about money. If they did not receive payment, they would not want to do their work. The only reward that they want is their money.
Paul knew about a reward that is much better than money. It was that he could declare Godís good news freely, without a price (Isaiah 55:1-3; Revelation 22:17). Paul did not want to be like someone who was just carrying out his duties. It is an honour to be able to declare Godís message. It is an honour to do Godís work. It is an honour to see how God changes peopleís lives by means of his good news.
Because Paul wanted that reward, he chose not to claim his rights.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.