In Paul’s letter to the saints in Galatia, he deals with some false teaching as it pertains to the gospel. The primary focus of the letter is to ensure that the Galatians are not being led astray by false teachers who would seek to bind them to a system of legalism.
The substance of the letter reveals how vital good, solid teachers are to the spiritual life of an assembly. The Bible also gives us clear instruction about how believers should value teachers and support them.
Individual giving to those who teach
One of the practical points of instruction in this letter addresses this topic. In Galatians 6:6, Paul writes “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” This command (notice the word MUST) seems to be pretty clear and yet how many believers today actually practice this on a personal level?
Notice, as well, that the instruction says “ONE who is taught”. This is not a CORPORATE principle; rather it is an individual principle.
Passing the buck
Sadly, it appears that many believers have abdicated this responsibility and the responsibility of ministering to the Lord’s work and His workers to the corporate body or some other para-church ministry. Rather than giving based on an individual spiritual exercise as specifically burdened by the Lord, believers tend to routinely give to the local assembly and then feel that their job is done.
The need for individuals to give
The assembly becomes a conduit for collecting funds – often far more than what is needed for the ministry and the expenses of the local assembly. Then a few of the brothers decide what to do with the excess funds.
Clearly, as the funds are distributed by a few, they are not being distributed the way that each individual in the assembly would minister them. The corporate disbursement of funds does NOT alleviate the individual responsibility to minister as burdened by the Lord.
How have YOU shared with the one who has taught you the Word? Let me ask this question a different way. How have you OBEYED Galatians 6:6? By giving to the assembly? Does every assembly minister financially to the men (often local) who teach the Word? Often times, the answer is NO.
Let’s look at Galatians 6:6 again. Notice that there is NO mention of the Bible teacher’s needs or wants. This command is not for the benefit of the teacher. It is for the benefit of the student. It is GOOD for the people of God to be exercised to support those who labor among them! It is good for the people of God to think about what they minister and to whom they minister.
Consider making this a part of your life
Yes, we need to provide for the needs of the local assembly and the work of the local assembly, but if the assembly is merely a conduit for our routine giving – one without exercise, we are not practicing New Testament principles as outlined in Galatians 6:6. Consider these other verses.
If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 1 Corinthians 9:11
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:14
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18.
Editorial Note: This article was first posted on Digital Sojourner on November 28, 2011 with the title “Sharing Good Things – A New Testament Principle” and is used here by permission of the author.