1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Spiritual leaders are worthy of double honour (respect). Our choice to honour them is not traditional. Neither is it an ‘African thing’. It’s a biblical instruction, and akin to Paul’s instruction to Thessalonica;
1 Thessalonians 5:12 – 13 “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Esteem them highly. There is an aspect of this instruction that is not immediately obvious. Honour is translated from the word ‘time’ in the Greek lexicon. It implies ‘value’ and more specifically ‘money paid ‘. This makes it most likely that Paul the Apostle implied that financial partnership and support be granted spiritual leaders. It won’t be the first time Paul uses honour to refer to welfare.
To Timothy he says, “Honour widows that are widows indeed” 1 Timothy 5:3. This was referring to welfare. Proverbs 3:9 “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase”
So double honour implies financial partnership. The next verse (1 Timothy 5:18) confirms it. It says
“…The labourer is worthy of his reward”
This is also clearly stated in two other epistles thus;
1 Corinthians 9:14, Even so, hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
Galatians 6:6, Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
Having said all these, the context of ‘double honour’ seems clear. Double not necessarily meaning twice too but ‘large’. Pastors should be well catered for.
What is the criteria for honouring your spiritual leader? Simply, that they rule well or that you are taught. It has nothing to do with how much money the Pastor already has. If you are being blessed by his ministry, you should respond materially.
This doesn’t also eradicate the fact that it still remains a shame for a Pastor to be forceful in his approach using the above texts as a disguise. Paul says:
“…for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” 1 Corinthians 9:15
That said, a lot of people have a problem with a Pastor being rich. However, if a man pastors several people and is poor, it is either they have not been blessed by his ministry or they have not obeyed the word.
It, however, becomes an issue, when a man of God turns to the very people that God clearly used to meet his needs and boasts about his riches. The logic behind this is unbelievable.
It is also dishonest for him to insist his needs are met simply because of the financial seeds he sows. Not at all. The Bible is clear on this.
1 Corinthians 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
Reaping carnal things is a response to spiritual things sown. Preaching begets honour and welfare. It might not be entirely sincere for a Pastor to use his personal examples of sowing and reaping as clearly, other factors come to play in his case.
May God continually enable Pastors to recognise and not abuse their privileges. May God help the Church to honour deserving leaders, not merely out of duty but love.
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