The laborer is worthy of his hire

In searching the scriptures this week, the topic of how the Lord’s ministers are to provide for their temporal needs came up. As I pieced together the different references throughout the scriptures, a fairly clear picture emerged of how the Lord wants his servants to provide for their temporal needs.

The phrase “the laborer is worthy of his hire” has been used to justify providing church leaders with salaries, cars, and health and retirement benefits. There are definite advantages to a salary system: both the payer and the payee can easily forecast and budget with a fixed salary system. Regardless of what work you do, knowing that you’ll receive your paycheck on a consistent schedule brings a fair amount of security. Once a salary system is in place, there is plenty of opportunity to discuss an appropriate compensation level and how much is too much. But rather than argue compensation levels, we should really ask ourselves, is a fixed salary system what the Lord authorized?

D&C 70
12 He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things;
13 Yea, even more abundantly, which abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit.
14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.

Here the Lord tells us those who administer spiritual things receive a spiritual remuneration, not financial. The “abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit.” As Alma Sr. is setting up the church of Christ he follows this same principle:

Mosiah 18:26
26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.

The Lord pays these spiritual laborers with a spiritual paycheck, not a financial paycheck. It creates a beautiful positive feedback loop: as they teach, they receive a greater portion of the Spirit, which allows them team teach with more power and authority, which allows them to receive an even greater portion of the Spirit, etc.

That’s nice…but what are they supposed to eat? At the end of the day, we all need to pay for food, clothing, and shelter. How did Alma solve this?

Mosiah 18:24
24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support.

Alma 1:26
26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.

Alma 30:32-34
32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.
33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.
34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?

Alma consistently applied the principle of church leaders supporting themselves. He did not exclude even himself from this, even though his church position required many travels. The only priests who were to receive money from the people were those who were too poor or too sick to support themselves. In which case, they would be treated just as the rest of the poor and sick.

Mosiah 27:5
5 Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God.

Mosiah 18:27-28
27 And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.
28 And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.

Now we have a conundrum. Alma makes it very clear that no one in the church he oversaw was to be paid for their labors in the church. But he also makes it clear that no one, including himself, devoted his full time to that church calling. Whereas Alma’s leaders were part time ministers, Warren Cowdery in D&C 106:3 was called to devote his whole time to his calling. What guidance do the scriptures give for those who are called to preach the gospel full-time?

When Christ called his twelve disciples in the Book of Mormon, he made it clear they would not be provided a regular, predictable living stipend.

3 Nephi 13
25 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;
29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.

They were to take no thought for what they shall eat or drink or wear, but rather trust that the Lord would provide what they needed when they needed it. There is no wiggle room here for budgeting and planning, or waiting until payday. This is the same command he gave his Apostles in Jerusalem.

This wasn’t without precedent. Alma Jr. and his cohorts, when faced with the daunting task of preaching to the Zoramites, were recipients of this same care from God.

Alma 31:35-38
35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.
36 Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
37 And after that they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on.
38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.

We see a similar pattern in Alma 8 when Alma entered the city of Ammonihah and approached Amulek:

Alma 8:19-21
19
And as he entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a man: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?
20 And the man said unto him: I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house.
21 And it came to pass that the man received him into his house; and the man was called Amulek; and he brought forth bread and meat and set before Alma.

The Lord will provide for his servants so that they do not hunger or thirst. The Lord makes it clear that the church (i.e. the members, D&C 10:67), are to provide for the Lord’s servants through free-will offerings. Just as Amulek knew he would be blessed for feeding Alma, the Lord promises us that if we feed and clothe his modern day servants who obey the command to serve without purse or scrip, we will also be rewarded.

D&C 24:18
18 And thou shalt take no purse nor scrip, neither staves, neither two coats, for the church shall give unto thee in the very hour what thou needest for food and for raiment, and for shoes and for money, and for scrip.

D&C 84
77 And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power;
78 For I suffered them not to have purse or scrip, neither two coats.
79 Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire.

Note the Lord is using that phrase, “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” when telling them they are to serve without purse or scrip. He is not saying they are worthy of a salary. They are worthy to have their temporal needs meet through offerings directly from those they meet and receive an increase of the Spirit. In verses 87-91 the Lord will explain how this proves the world. In the meantime, he commands that the modern church is to go without purse or scrip just as the ancient church did.

80 And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst.
81 Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.
82 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.
83 For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.
84 Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.
85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.
86 Therefore, let no man among you, for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry, from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom.

There’s no exception here. Every person is to serve without purse or scrip. Not only is this a test of faith to those being sent out, but the Lord reveals that it is a divine method of finding his elect:

87 Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come.
88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
89 Whoso receiveth you receiveth me; and the same will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money.
90 And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward.
91 And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.

Just as Amulek received his reward, those who receive the Lord’s servants will also be blessed. Those who don’t receive them, feed them, and clothe them, demonstrate that they are not Christ’s disciples.

If there are Twelve Apostles on the earth today, and they have the same mandate that both the ancient Twelve Apostles and the Twelve Disciples had, they should be serving without purse or scrip. No living stipend, no church provided cars, and no church funded health care plan. And because D&C 84:86 applies this standard to everyone who is called of God unto the ministry to proclaim the gospel, that would also include the entirety of the Seventy, all the mission presidents, and all the missionaries. (That used to be the case, but somewhere along the way things changed without a published revelation).

If that’s the standard the Lord has set in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, why does D&C 42 say that the bishop and his counselors are to have their families supported and receive a just remuneration for all their services?

D&C 42: 71-73
71 And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned;
72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.
73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.

The first thing to notice is that today’s practices are the opposite of what the scriptures say. The scriptures say the bishops and their counselors are to be provided a remuneration, whereas the Apostles and Seventy are not. Yet today’s church pays the Apostles and Seventy and makes the bishops and their counselors fend for themselves.

Setting that aside, what’s going on in Section 42? Remember that Section 42 is the law of Zion, which includes the law of consecration. According to the 1833 version of this revelation (published while the church was actually living these laws), everyone joining Zion “[shall] consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto the Lord”. After which, they would receive a stewardship according to their needs. And if through their industry they produced more than they needed, that too was consecrated. By definition, they wouldn’t have excess money to support bishops and their counselors. So in this case, it makes sense for the bishop and his counselors to receive their own stewardship. In fact, in D&C 41, the Lord calls Edward Partridge to be a bishop and “to leave his merchandise and to spend all his time in the labors of the church.”

It should be noted that the role of the bishop is temporal, not spiritual, in the scriptures. He was to collect the consecrations and divide them fairly. No worthiness interviews. No counseling members struggling with sin. No leading sacrament meetings.

D&C 70:12
12 He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things;

D&C 107:68
68 …for the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things;

Bishops, back then, administered in temporal things and received a stewardship for doing so. (A great question to ask is, where in the scriptures did God authorize the current, expanded role of a bishop?).

In the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph made significant changes to Section 42 (and other sections) to reflect the different status of the church. In this case, the church had failed to live the law of Zion and had broken the covenant and were no longer living the law of consecration as originally commanded. Joseph made changes (in blue) to accommodate the modified law of consecration the church was then living.

1833 Book of Commandments 1835 Doctrine and Covenants
(D&C 42:70-72 today)
The priests and teachers, shall have their stewardship given them even as the members; and the elders are to assist the bishop in all things, and he is to see that their families are supported out of the property which is consecrated to the Lord, either a stewardship, or otherwise, as may be thought best by the elders and bishop.

 

 

The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members, and the elders, or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counsellors, in all things are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned; or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services; either a stewardship, or otherwise, as may be thought best, or decided by the counsellors and bishop. And the bishop also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services, in the church.

Under this dumbed-down law of consecration, the priests, teachers, and bishops were now entitled to receive just remuneration for their services, because the church no longer had all things common, so there were no stewardships to be given to them. We can see several implications of this change elsewhere in Section 42.

1833 Book of Commandments 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 42:29-31 today)
If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments; and behold , thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto me, with a covenant and a deed which can not be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church, and two of the elders, such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose.

 

If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments. And behold , thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support, that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken-and inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me-and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counsellors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall or has appointed and set apart for that purpose.

Notice how in 1835 the members are told to consecrate of their properties to support the poor. Why weren’t the poor mentioned in the 1833 version?

Moses 1:18
18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

D&C 70:14
14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.

When living the law of consecration, there are no poor to support. Everyone is equal. Everyone gives up everything they own, and in return receive what they need. Only after the members failed to live the true law of consecration did provisions have to be made for the poor, when members were only giving OF their properties and all things were not common. In this case the bishop’s role shifted from seeing that all families are given appropriate stewardships to seeing that the poor are provided for out of the storehouse.

In summary, under a scriptural system  only the bishops and their counselors who are handling the temporal affairs of the church are be supported by the people. Under the law of Zion by receipt of a stewardship, and outside of the law of Zion by a “living stipend” or just remuneration. Regardless of whether the church is living the law of Zion or not, the Apostles, Seventy, and missionaries are to travel without purse or scrip and rely on the Lord, through the generosity of those who are the Lord’s disciples, for their food, clothing, and all else of which they have need. That standard is congruent with the teachings of the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. Quite a bit different from how things operate today.

Addendum

Here are a few other excerpts from the scriptures on paying ministers.

King Noah “laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed…and all this he did take to support himself, and wives and concubines, and also his priests and their wives and concubines…and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms.” (Mosiah 11:3-6)

Nehor taught that “every priest and teacher ought to become popular, and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.” (Alma 1:3) Nehor later acknowledged that “what he had taught to the people was contrary to the word of God.” (Alma 1:15)

Samuel the Lamanite warned the Nephites that “if a man shall come among you and [not testify of your sins but say you shall not suffer], ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up and ye shall give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaks flattering words unto you, and he says that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.” (Helaman 13:27-28) In the next verse, Samuel then asks, “How long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?”

 

 

3 thoughts on “The laborer is worthy of his hire

  1. Great article. This is the first one I have read on your blog. I will be reading more and proving all you say against the scriptures :). So far so good!!

  2. I agree with what you have written here. The problem is, the lds church is off track where it concerns the scriptures vs. what they really do. When I read the scriptures I see many instances where the church does just the opposite of what we are told. I have woke up to the truth, but many around me do not see this. Now I see power at the very top, along with no accountability for finances. I see there has to be greed with endless money. I see there has to be corruption. But what can we do about it who are down at the bottom? All the members won’t see it and quit paying tithing, but even then, they ( those at the top of the totem pole) have their 32 billion and I am sure are very well provided for no matter what happens. I am tired of the lies and tired of the many, many false traditions. I hope more and more people see what is going on. I understand why people are leaving. The problem is, if you do, they no one will listen to you. They are brainwashed and honestly, I feel like the church I grew up in is a cult.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *