What is the proper role money should have among Christians? All I can say, money is a reality. We depend on it.
In an earlier chapter St. Paul pointed out that he did not charge the churches he was founding. He was working with his own hands as a tent-maker to cover his own personal needs.
Nevertheless he maintained: “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 13:14). You may take this as a scriptural foundation for what we call full-time Christian ministry. A paid minister can give all his strength to preaching and caring for believers entrusted to him.
I am still dealing with 1 Corinthians 13:1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” For what I am writing today I am using the Authorised or King James Version only. The words ‘a sounding brass’ are my inspiration for today’s post.
The Greek word translated ‘brass’ can take the meaning of money. Apparently in those days coins were made of this material.
For today I think of the sound a coin produces when falling on the floor. Or maybe you have a bucket full of money and pour it on a table. This will bring forth a loud noise.
(Admittedly I am not that sure if the word translated by sounding would typically or necessarily describe the noise produced by coins. I do not know of an existing translation that obviously refers to this kind of sound. However, for today’s post I will consider this as a possible meaning).
In an earlier post I mentioned that whereas other chapters in 1 Corinthians are plain argument the thirteenth chapter is somewhat lyrical. Several expressions in the first verse seem to be metaphoric. In other chapters Paul also uses pictorial illustrations. Here he condenses what he means to say into very few words such as ‘sounding brass’. The reader is challenged to dig into the meaning of these words.
Paul does not openly speak about money here. Yet a reader or listener of the Greek in those days would have known that the same word could refer to coins produced of this material. Of course other things were made of this substance too.
Now the question is: What are you aiming at when preaching or sharing at church? Are you doing it for some money you may receive? Are you focussing on some social recognition as your reward? Or do you simply enjoy standing in the front, while others remain quiet for a while as you speak?
Are you merely a ‘sounding brass’? Are you chiefly thinking about what you might benefit for yourself?
A speaker may use most impressive and interesting words. Yet this may be merely part of the routine of giving and receiving.
Christian love and benevolence is a quality that could be a distinguishing mark of a Christian speaker. Love will enhance any conversation amongst Christian believers.