Paul Surrenders His Rights
Paul points out that workers of a field eat some of the crops, those who tend animals take some of the milk, etc. So why shouldn't those who tend the spiritual lives of people take some material things from them? This is the right of the clergy, and yet Paul does not partake because he thinks this will result in even more people converting.
This is a really interesting passage, the more I think about it, the more I think this is a fine message. The spiritual leaders among you are working to provide you a service. You think the service is valuable, why not give them some material items so they can get by. The reason I think this is ok, is that the message seems to be talking about making a living, not getting rich. There are 2 problems I can think of here. One is if someone uses the message to get rich (mega-churches for example), the other is when poor people are manipulated to give more money to their church than they can really afford, like the prosperity gospel. However, both of these objections would have to be a distortion of this verse, or perhaps just drawing on other sources.
The other part of this message is that he has a claim to their money but he isn't taking it. He is basically saying that saving their soul is better than taking their money, and if he can refuse some of what is coming to him to save a few more souls it is worth it. This is a good message. Of course I don't believe in the soul or anything myself, but the basic message here it to help each other out, and that I like.
After I wrote this post, it occurred to me that this is a letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He's not there preaching, he's at a far away place. It seems to me that the modern equivalent is the guys at the Vatican telling us that they deserve some money from the churches all over the world. This I'm not much of a fan of.
For the Corinthians Overview Post:
9:12 It is better to save a soul than make some money