One time, when David was trying to get God to stop killing thousands of innocent people to punish David for obeying God, David decided he had to make God a sacrifice. When someone offered to give David some free oxen to sacrifice, David said that wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t be right to offer God something that cost him nothing. That wouldn’t be a real sacrifice at all! So he paid for the oxen and then sacrificed them, and God accepted his offering and stopped killing innocent people.
But what about that other time, when Abraham had just passed God’s test by showing how easily he could be convinced to murder his own children? In that story, God provided Abraham with a free ram, just so he could offer it right back to God. Here God certainly doesn’t seem to have a problem with people giving him things that cost them nothing. Instead, he’s actively encouraging it.
And when Joshua had the Israelites destroy the city of Jericho, he said God wanted them to plunder all its people’s valuables and put them in God’s treasury. The Israelites certainly didn’t pay for those stolen goods, but apparently God wanted to have them anyway. As long as you’re giving him valuable stuff, God doesn’t seem to care how you got it.
Continue reading Should people offer God things they got for free?
In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul makes it clear that he expects to be rewarded for his work. And not just by God after he dies. He thinks his followers owe him a material reward for his spiritual work, just like any other worker would get. And he says that isn’t just his opinion. God’s law (at least the way Paul interprets it) commands that people pay others for their work, including preachers.
But then he claims that he’s not preaching for profit, that there’s nothing wrong with not paying a preacher, and that he’s not trying to convince anyone to give him anything. So why was he just telling people they owed him, then? Even though he thinks he has a right to be supported by his followers, he now says he would rather die than use that right, because he’s proud not to be a burden to the people he’s preaching to.
Then he says he doesn’t even deserve a reward, because he can’t help preaching. So why was he just saying he did deserve it? For Paul, preaching the gospel for free is its own reward, and other than that, he doesn’t want any reward.
Continue reading Did Paul think he should get a reward for his work?
Righteous people give without sparing. God rewards those who give to the poor by making sure the givers lack nothing. If you invite guests over for a meal, never invite your friends and relatives; only invite poor and disabled people. One of the requirements to gain eternal life is to sell everything you have and give the money to the poor. If you do that, you will be perfect, and God will reward you in heaven. Even if you’re poor yourself, you must work your way out of poverty, just so you’ll have something to give to the poor.
But if you refuse to listen to the pleas of the poor, your own pleas will be ignored and you will be plagued with curses. If you ever keep anything to yourself when poor people want it, the love of God is not in you, and you deserve to lose an arm.
Continue reading Should people give everything to the poor?
It is written: Workers deserve their wages. Payment for work is not an optional gift; it’s an obligation. After all, the whole point of working is to be able to reap the benefits. If even people who don’t work have a right to be fed, how much more those who do? God does not approve when people make other people work for nothing. You must pay your workers without delay, or God will take away everything you have.
Continue reading Do workers deserve payment?