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Discipleship: Remuneration


When Jesus sent out his apostles to preach during his public ministry, he instructed them, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8). Jesus also practiced the same. Whenever he performed miracles, he did not expect receive anything in return from the beneficiaries. He wanted the apostles to imitate him with the same spirit. They should not make their pastoral authority as a money-making business or bargain for any favors they offered.

Later, when the Church became formal and institutional, financial support from the faithful became necessary. Then the Church authorities had to apply the instruction of Jesus, “the laborer deserves his payment” (Lk 10:7). Paul wrote, “Presbyters who preside well deserve double honour, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching. For the scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it is threshing,’ and, ‘A worker deserves his pay’” (1 Tim 5:17-18).

Though remuneration is essential for the support of the ministers and running of the institutions, the spirit of free offering and non-profit service should dominate the pastoral ministry. Paul said to the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus, “I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:33-35).

The faithful who benefitted the service of the apostles needed to provide for their necessities if they could. Whereas the apostles should not be greedy or demanding. God had such provision for the priests of the Old Testament. “The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no hereditary portion with Israel; they shall eat the fire offerings of the LORD and the portions due to him” (Deut 18:1). So also, Jesus expected enough support for the needs of his ministers in the Church.

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