The Integrity Of Faith In God
Proclaiming The Word With Integrity
“But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:15
While there are those who think they can get wealthy by the proclamation of the gospel, the Apostle Paul was adamant about his determination to give no one an excuse to dismiss his preaching by the accusation that he was just in it for the money. He was diligent to preach the whole counsel of God, that it was right and good for those who benefited from the apostle’s, the prophet’s, the evangelist’s, the pastor’s and teacher’s administration of their ministries to also support them with their material substance, but for himself, he chose to do whatever work he needed to do to provide for himself in order to be dependent on no one but God. This is not to say that Paul was not provided for by the free will offerings of the church or that he refused any offering that was sent to him. Quite the contrary, he not only received offerings but he commended those who sent sacrificially and generously to him without his solicitation. The church at Philippi was one such group.
“For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.” Philippians 4:16
The main message here is that the gospel is not for sale, nor is it given to make those who proclaim it wealthy at the expense of others, but those who preach the gospel with faithfulness and integrity will be provided for, so they need not worry about how they will make the gospel known wherever God presents the opportunity to them, and they will be above reproach. The indictment of the naysayers, who only wish to mute the voice of those who proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will have no effect on them.
Paul understood that the essential to the effective working of his ministry to a fallen, broken world and to the religious hierarchy of the Jews was to live with absolute integrity, free from even the appearance of scandal or accusation.
To be given stewardship in the body of Christ to proclaim the gospel, to teach others to know the Lord in His fullness is a high calling, and we who preach Christ must never abuse that authority by reducing its value to the offer of the highest bidder. Our reward is not here on earth but in Heaven. Our stewardship is to simply be faithful.
God is gracious and Paul understood that and enjoyed great and abundant blessing from every source God provided. As so too will all those who trust in Jesus as they freely give what they have freely received.
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
We have inherited a great and eternal charge from God. We have been given the mantle that once was born by those who have gone before us and now we stand in the place of transferring this message unalloyed to the next and subsequent generations.
The Word of God is Holy and so our calling as faithful witnesses is Holy. The integrity of God’s Word is faithful and demands our utmost care and commitment to live it with Holy respect and reverence.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Luke 21:33
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63
The Word of God is sure and steadfast, eternal and never ending. It is God’s integrity expressed and God’s person revealed in the man Jesus Christ.
To be true to Jesus Christ is to be true to His Word. In this is the measure of our integrity and faithfulness toward Him and Father by the power and indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.