Does Matthew 10:8 Prohibit Christians From Charging for Their Service?
One day my wife finally dropped the bombshell on me. She said she thought I had the talent and calling from God to leave my career as a paramedic and become an author.
For years, I resisted the urging of friends and relatives who felt I was called to be a writer. I rejected the possibility of writing and selling books because I knew Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give…” and I understood that as a prohibition against selling anything related to God. I could not in good conscience sell a book that was based on the revelation He had given me. My wife suggested I might read those instructions again.
The tenth chapters of Matthew and Luke are a great help in understanding the things Jesus expected of His disciples. In Matthew chapter ten, the Lord instructed the twelve about their ministry, and in Luke chapter ten, He gave instructions to the 70. It’s in Matthew that we find the instruction about giving freely. Immediately after choosing the twelve disciples, Jesus gave them power to heal sickness and disease and said to them:
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Mt 10:8 NKJV)
What’s important to note is the context of this verse. The instruction to give freely was not a general instruction that applied to all of their activities. (This becomes clear in the next verse.) It seems as though it applied to healing the sick, casting out demons, cleansing lepers and raising the dead. He did allow them to receive compensation for other things related to their ministry. The next verse reads:
Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. (verses 9-10)
Jesus sent the disciples out penniless. Rather than telling them to take money to pay for their own needs, they were to rely on the generosity of strangers. They lived in the homes of whoever received them and taught about the kingdom of God. In return, the homeowners provided for their needs. When He sent out the 70, (recorded in Luke chapter 10) He gave them similar instructions, once again telling them not to take any valuables. They were to stay wherever they were welcomed, heal the sick, teach on the kingdom of God and allow strangers to provide for their needs—reminding them that they were laborers for God and that they were worthy of the wages they received. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul affirmed that teaching and preaching ought to be compensated:
Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Tim. 5:17-18 NLT)
It’s clear from these passages that believers may be compensated for their ministry to the body of Christ. Here’s how I apply these instructions in my own life:
I’ve never asked for money to pray for anyone to be healed, set free of a demon, raised from the dead, or for any type of prayer request. It takes an enormous amount of time to create blog posts, podcasts, and videos, but I make these things available for free. I do, however, charge for my books, and there are a couple of reasons why:
A typical print book requires me to pay about $1,500 just for editing services. Retail book publishers set a minimum price an author must charge for a print book. They don’t allow them to be made available for free. As much as I would like to offer my books for free, it’s just not possible.
Although I once thought it was against the instructions of Jesus to charge for anything related to my service to God, I now understand that there are things that I should offer for free and things for which I may charge. I don’t think this is an unreasonable approach and I believe it’s consistent with the way Jesus intended new covenant ministry to be conducted.
This is a big subject and hopefully you don’t get any nasty responses. I once knew a guy who stopped being friends with another guy because he didn’t believe Pastors should have a salary. Of course the first guy’s dad was a Pastor so..
I have thought about the same things because I have a couple of book ideas floating in my heart. I think you’ve drawn a good line there. A person comes to you and asks for prayer for healing or whatever, you do not tell them to make the check out to you and then you’ll pray.
The Apostles situation was different, they were instructed to go from town to town leaving their day job as fishermans. There was no printing press, editor, etc. they were sharing the word mouth to mouth. You’re right, it costs money to print and some people say so what but it’s not their pocketbook the money is coming out of.
I think if its part of your work, then it’s fine. It’s no different than a gospel singer making money from singing. They’re using their talent (some use scripture) and get paid for their work. It’s expensive to pay for studios etc. Christian colleges aren’t free either..Christian movies….
That article could be longer. I have been looking forward to reading this article. I was very happy with it. You are a good bloke!
Your summation is spot on PM. And just fyi, I would pay twice as much for your books than you now charge. I have read hundreds of books on my Christian walk and none of them are as informative and as concise as yours are on the things you write about.
Just keep it up and I hope the Lord leads you deeper still into the river.
Plain as day. It appears to be another glitch the spirit of religion/intimidation/condemnation throws at believers to keep them out of the market place.
Instead of being renewed in the spirit of your mind people succumb to ineffective walks to appease these spirits.
I believe this is what Richard Booth of Salvation Army fame came up against in his followers prior to establishing the first union.
He saw that his congragation, though followers of Christ were still beleaguered by the Man in factories they worked in.
When he began to go to factories to start unions, there was such a presence of God about him that his enemies stood in to take the blows meant for him.
Having done all stand.
I think it’s good that you are grappling with this. I think you came to a happy middle ground, charging for books but not for other things. But what worries me is the people that don’t ever seem to grapple with this on any level – the people charging for prophetic words, for healing ministry, etc. Those are the ones that to me, seem to have crossed a line.
I agree Heather.
Well said total agree with you. By the way your books are worth the money!!!
Yes, this is completely Biblical! And perhaps because of this you will be financially able to further bless the body of Christ with your ministry. God has seasons for everyone, and perhaps this is a new season for you, too. I personally have purchased all your books on kindle and have bought copies of the emotional healing book for several of my friends. And I’m a stay at home mom on a tight single income. I believe your books are worth every penny. I say, pray about what to charge and God will lead you. God bless you, Brother.
Thank you Jodi!
I love this, there is a ditch to fall into on both sides of the road. Some take this ‘worker us worthy of his wages’ and move into entitlement. Withholding ministry unless paid, ungodly trading, prostituting gifts for money… Can you imagine if we were sent out with nothing but then demanded to be paid in order to heal and deliver? Yikes! You sound so balanced and conscientious. Thanks for sharing and your generosity.
Good thoughts. I have no problem of anyone receiving wages for any service they provide whether secular or ministerial/spiritual. It is good. However, I think eventually we all will get to a level of operation of kingdom economics where we won’t even use money any more at all. All money is simply an intermediary exchange found in human economic systems. These systems are all built on the foundational idea of scarcity, so we exchange the limited amount of what we have i.e. time, labor, resources for some thing we do not have which is also limited. To me, the verse reveals how the economy of heaven works. It is not founded on the idea of lack or scarcity, but rather from the truth of God being the source of provision and of there being lavish excess available to every person. The 12 and later the 70 did not take anything with them, but where ever they went, they had abundant supernatural provision from God. Jesus, when He turned water into wine, made enough wine for a 100 weddings. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, had there been 10 million people to feed, there would still be excess left over to collect. There was no scarcity and no monetary exchange. There was only obedience and trust in Father.
A little over 10 years ago, I told God I wanted to work for Him and not for money. Since that time, I have done mostly volunteer work or work for minimal wages. Most monies I have earned have been given away to individuals and to various ministries. Besides volunteer work, I write, create music and original art. Any money from my original art, music, and writing I have given away. In this last ten years, I have been all over the world on many mission trips, was given a new car, have given away a house, had debts paid off, have had all my bills paid, and have had everything I have needed. God did all this, and in the eyes of the world I am well below the poverty line making less than $10,000 a year from wages. Yet in God’s economy, He is the source, and I have everything I need. I have freely received from God in every respect and I am able to freely give in equally in every respect because there is no lack or scarcity in what is provided.
Is there a difference here between our “gifts” that we use to enhance the body of Christ (the church) and our ministry? I think there must be. Our gifts – given by the holy spirit, e.g. healing as mentioned in your article – have been freely given to us, so must be freely passed to others.
On the other hand our “ministry” could essentially be anything from counseling, to building work, to sound production, to art? Many Christian workers are employed within christian churches, and get remunerated for their time – essentially paid – as it should be IMHO. I”m a web developer and do charge (albeit a reduced rate) to create a church website.
In the 60’s as a young boy I was brought up in an Open Brethren church, so we didn’t have a pastor – just a board or elders. Consequently we had a constant stream of preachers from other churches who came through to preach at our services. Every one was paid expenses for their travel, their time, and a bit extra for their services. It wasn’t a lot, but it was recognized practice within the various Mission Halls and Brethren Churches who shared their preaching talents. Some simply gave their payment back and refused to take any payment – their choice. Some took the payment and donated it to their own congregation. And, I dare say, some used it to keep their family in clothes and food.
Didn’t Paul himself carry on his profession as a tent maker to keep himself, pay his way, and not be a financial burden while on his missionary journeys? Although he wasn’t directly “ministering” by making tents (leather work, etc) he didn’t rely on the already hard pressed churches to keep him.
Getting paid for your ministry is absolutely right and proper as I see it. I would think the problem would be where we withheld a blessing because no payment was offered or forthcoming. Here the money would become the center of your decision making process, and we all know… You cannot serve both God and Money!
God bless you Brother!
Though I have many thoughts, son, you are ALREADY hearing and obeying THE thoughts that really count. Hear what the Spirit says, do what the Father says, and whatever Jesus says….do that. I believe you are spot on. ??
I once met a poor pastor and his wife who were down to something like their last can of beef stew. The Lord told me to give them some money. The pastor politely refused, saying that he would take NO MONEY for preaching the Gospel. I pressed two or three more times, each time he refused, as I’m sitting there KNOWING that he and his wife are about out of food. I don’t really have words to express what I think of that pastor, but I wish his ignorance was not making his wife suffer, too.
I am an artist. Ive painted during worship services. I charge for my paintings. I don’t charge for healing prayers or words of knowledge. You need to charge for books.
A very balance view of the scriptures. Thank you brother you have set many free with this blog
To Joseph – writer of books
I use a web program called Grammarly to correct my manuscripts. The basic is free; I paid $75.00 for a year to edit several books. I’ve found it very helpful. I urge you not to give up writing; I sense you have an important message to bring forth.
To Praying Medic
I am so thankful to have found your writings. They have encouraged me greatly! I am appreciative of your open, honest style,Thank you for simplifying and de-mystifying several topics.
I’m curious of your thoughts about not charging for healing, but accepting donations or gifts if they are offered. I know I have healing talents, and I know God is pushing me in that direction. I have never withheld healing from anyone that could not pay, and when it was a side-gig, most often did it for free. I have never liked the thought of charging for healing, but now that’s it’s my ONLY gig, I’m not sure how I’d make a living. Thoughts?
If I were you, I would do the most natural thing in the world which is find yourself a job. If you can’t find one, pray about it and receive what the Lord gives yo, no matter what it is. Be humble.
As for the gift of healing that you have, let the Lord guide you to a church. Submit to the pastor and leaders and wait. Do not promote yourself in any way, just be humble. In due time, the Lord will open a door for you to a greater ministry if that is His will. If not, just be.
A verse for you that you should take seriously is John 3:34
Thanks for the wise words, Joseph! What you describe is exactly what I have done for the past 8 years. Without going into the detail (which could be a book), God doesn’t want me to have a regular job. Of that, I am certain.
He has led me back to healing, and has used me to heal many times. In the past, I used healing arts (massage, reiki, hypnosis) to attempt a living before I truly found God. However I was aware at the time that it was a gift from Him. Although I was charging for legitimate services, I felt conflicted getting paid for what I knew was a divine gift. I also remember lamenting that it was hard to build a clientele, if so many were healed on the 1st visit. I wanted them to be healed, but I became concerned that I didn’t have enough time to build the clientele that could sustain me.
Ultimately I stopped after a very short time and went back to an unfulfillied corporate life. Ever since then, God has shown me repeatedly that he doesn’t want me there. Through the struggle, I have developed a strong relationship with Him, and he’s been urging me to heal again. But this time, fully integrating my Faith into the practice or making that THE practice. Through the process, I have learned to trust in God’s economy. There’s no other explanation for how I’ve made it this far.
I think I’ve answered my own question. I believe a healing ministry that accepts donations no differently than a preacher that does the same. I will share my healing ministry freely, and if people are inspired to make a donation or make some sort of provision, I will humbly & gratefully accept it, and I will thank Him. This is going to really take a leap of Faith. Now I pray for the courage to just jump!
I don’t know your name, but I find it amazing that you have a gift and I have a need.
I wished I knew you so that you could pray for me. I’m deaf in one ear, I have acute acid reflux, I have arthritis on my right hip with inflammation. I have back pain that demands I take pain pills. Besides that, I have a enlarged prostate that keeps me going to the you know where all the time.
However, I have had incredible dreams that promised me much, yet my wife and I live in a little nothing town while both of us are dying for our divine calling to become a reality.
Sometimes I find it ironic that we cannot find a door open.
I wish I could pray for you so that your dreams may come to pass. If you wish, you can send me an e-mail. Perhaps we can encourage one another,
You, and everyone else who believes has the same power to heal anyone, including yourself, but I will pray for you. You are exactly where you are supposed to be today, as it is part of His plan. I’ll also pray for you to recognize the doors that are available to you when you are ready.
Yours in Prayer-
To: Thatswhatklsaid: My friend, please don’t pray for me from afar. I have learned that healing takes place when we actually pray for one another in the flesh or through some other way that brings brethren even for a moment. Praying from afar is something we do for a very little while and them we give up. We I pray for someone, I want to touch him and pray aloud so that the person may receive from the Lord right then and there.
Years ago when I was young in the faith, I learned from the Lord never to say to anyone… “I’ll pray for you” because that was a co-pout. Either I prayed for the person at that moment or I didn’t pray at all. My pastor then taught us that and I never forgot it.
As for you to tell me where I am where I’m supposed to be is nothing new to me. I’m a seasoned believer and I know that God’s plan is not for me to be sick. I also believe that healing is a gift from the Lord and not something we all have to give (1Cor. 12:9). In some instances we may have authority to command healing for someone, but it doesn’t work all the time.
i have prayed many times over my wife and myself with zero results (even taking authority over the sickness). I have done all that I thought was necessary to receive healing. Nothing happened either.
Joni Eareckson Tada, who is a quadriplegic that has never been healed despite the fact that thousands of people prayed for her, so let’s not turn healing into a formula and believe it happens to all. Even Praying Medic struggles with some sickness of his own despite his success with other people. The fact is that some get healed while most don’t is a fact.
My suggestion is that you love those whom the Lord brings to you and let Him heal them as you share Christ with them. Bring joy to others and let your joy may be made full.
Wow! 2 Samuel 10 teaches us that no good deed goes unpunished! When you asked for prayer, and I did the best I could offer, which was to pray from afar, I was sincere. As soon as I read your previous post, I started praying for you and asking God for the best approach. He told me to pray and respond to the post when it felt right, which I did. I prayed for you again as soon as I wrote the response, and you were 1st on the list of prayers last night. My intention was to continue to do so.
I, too, prefer to lay hands on someone when praying for healing, but realistically, I have neither the money nor time to drop everything to fly to your “little nothing town”, as you describe it, to meet a complete stranger. I have several friends and family that are in much worse shape than you describe that you are. I’d be quite thankful if one particular family member was in as good a shape as yourself. I’m still recovering from breast cancer treatment myself, so quite frankly, I was severely limited in the help I could offer. But I knew GOD could do much more, which is why He told me to pray for you and have faith. I did the best I could do for a complete stranger that I have never met, and I’m good with that because that was God’s will for my role in your healing. If you don’t like it, take it up with Him.
The praying medic has had success in distant healing, as have I. It’s understood that not everyone will be healed, because God has the greater plan. I am truly sorry that you are obviously hurting. Like it or not, I will continue to pray for you. Beyond that, I see no need for further correspondence or discussion. I will not reply.
I pray that you find some peace and gratitude for the many blessings which God has bestowed upon you.
Please don’t take offense. I have heard so many people saying, “I’ll pray for you” and in the end, nothing happened. I prefer face to face or through skype if possible. It does take a few minutes.
I do appreciate your desire to pray for me. When I tell others that I will also pray for them (distance wise), I don’t let go until the Lord gives me the green light. Unfortunately, I expect the same from others, yet in some cases, even my best friend only gives me a few seconds or so. I pray deep and consistently while looking expectantly for the Lord to speak on the person’s behalf
Again, thank you and please forgive my indolence. My words didn’t come across as I wanted them…
Thank you so much for this clarification! I have wondered if I should write books on the insights God has given me, and was concerned I would displease Him if I charged for them. I am so glad you wrote this article and the things you bring out I always knew, but for whatever reason, they didn’t come into the equation in this matter. It’s strange how we can fail to see the obvious at times.
well, you could give PDFs for free 😉
When people contact me and ask for a free book, I send them a PDF or ebook file for free.