Caring for Our Shepherds
“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches” (v. 6)- Galatians 6:5–6
Without accurate self-assessment, faulty self-perception gets in the way of the law of Christ (Gal. 6:1–4). Pride that says “I am better than so-and-so” hinders service to those in dire straits or trapped in gross sin (v. 3; see Luke 10:25–37), but we who see ourselves rightly will humbly realize that we too are unworthy of God’s grace. Moreover, feelings of uselessness vanish under proper self-examination. The Holy Spirit gifts us for service (1 Cor. 12), and our Creator is pleased to make us useful even if we are “less talented” than others.
Our service to God is what finally counts, not the way our gifting or holiness compares to that of others (Gal. 6:5). In talking about our carrying our own load, Paul is not speaking of the heavy difficulties or besetting sins we are unable to bear ourselves (v. 2); rather, he is referring to the fact that we will not be able to rely on the devotion of others on that final day. We must in all humility carry one another’s burdens, but when it comes to ourselves, we must take responsibility for our actions. Professing Christians who do not “carry their own load” will be cast into darkness, proving that they never had saving faith (Matt. 25:14–30).
Among the best ways to take responsibility for our actions in the kingdom is to share our increase with our teachers (Gal. 6:6), those faithful pastors who feed us the Word of God. Paul is referring mainly to financial support of ministers. Since the days of the Levitical priesthood, the Father has ordered the laity to meet the needs of His clergy more often than not (Num. 18; 1 Tim. 5:17–18). Certainly, pastors are not to be greedy, but most of us reading this devotional are not ordained ministers, and we should consider whether we have thought and acted as if it is our duty to keep our pastors from loving money by keeping their salaries low and our financial giving down. Too many believers assume, without biblical warrant, that our Lord requires clergymen to get by on far less than others. But Luther says the practical outworking of this sentiment can discourage men and make them unable to continue in ministry and support their families simultaneously. Humanly speaking, this robs the church of vital resources to build up the saints and therefore, the kingdom of God.
Our local pastors have a responsibility before the Lord for the care of our souls. They will be judged more strictly because of this (James 3:1), and we must do all that we can to help them do their job faithfully. Besides giving money and encouraging the decision-makers in our congregations to pay our ministers well, we can also thank our pastors for preaching the Word of God faithfully. These are all ways we can share “all good things” with our teachers.
Passages for Further Study
1 Kings 17:8–16
1 Thess. 5:12–13a