2 Corinthians 11: A Preacher Talks about His Brethren and Fellow Preachers

2 Corinthians 11: A Preacher Talks about His Brethren and Fellow Preachers

The carnality of Corinthian thinking continues on display in chapter 11. As I read and re-read the text, I thought about a couple of dichotomies within the churches of Christ, namely, how different brethren treat their preachers differently.

Without painting with too broad a brush, here are a couple of observations from my last 30 years in the church.

Many of my white brethren have been perfectly content to allow men to serve them as Paul served the brethren at Corinth–at little or no sacrifice or cost to themselves (vv 7-8, cf 1 Cor 9:18). Paul established, then served, the church at Corinth for nearly two years without any support from the local brethren. His love for the Lord, his appreciation for his call (cf 1 Cor 9:16-17), and his love for the lost (2 Cor 5:10-11) all compelled Paul to go the second and third mile that the gospel would not be hindered (1 Cor 9:12). But Paul also said those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel (1 Cor 9:14), not starve of the gospel.

On the other hand, I have seen my black brethren, also like the Corinthians, allow preachers to make merchandise of them (vv 19-20). I would never consider this a matter of doctrine or fellowship, as churches are autonomous and thus free to support their preacher in whatever way suits them, but it bothers me to see preachers living at a level that far exceeds that of the average member. I was speaking with a fellow preaching brother who spoke of being invited to hold a meeting among black brethren. He told me that these brethren spent a large portion of their annual budget just to bring in certain preachers for a Gospel meeting. Of one preacher, it was said that he demanded outrageous accommodations and remuneration for himself, his tag-along song leader, and his entourage. As I said, brethren are free to do as they please, but I think such is outrageous and not pleasing to the Lord.

Any preacher, including those who are invited to temporarily assist the local brethren in meetings, etc., is a servant of the local church. They are fellow laborers, working together for the good of the kingdom. Neither should be taken advantage of by the other.

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