1 Corinthians 9:7-14
Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges? who plants a vineyard, and eats not of the fruit thereof? or who feeds a flock…
The toils of the field are succeeded by those of the flail: and perhaps the peasant has no employment more laborious than threshing; indeed, none to equal it in severity of exertion, but ploughing; for which reason St. Paul, in the verse before us, selects these two branches of agriculture to illustrate the work of a minister.
I. On entering a barn and seeing the thresher beat the corn with his flail, a casual observer would almost conclude the grain would be MATERIALLY INJURED, Censures, in ignorance of the process, might be heard; and ministerial efforts are open to this misconstruction (Isaiah 41:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16).
II. He who thresheth intends, and hopes, to succeed IN SEPARATING THE GRAIN FROM THE HUSK; and he does succeed. So shall the Word of God be, by it character is detected and displayed. After our Lord had urged the necessity of self-denial, from that time many walked no more with Him, they were offended at His doctrine: while His genuine followers became by the same means more confirmed in their attachment, and renewed their allegiance to their chosen sovereign. Labours for the spiritual good of others must be discriminating to be successful: each must receive his portion of meat, or medicine, as the case may require, in due season.
III. Does not the toil of the thresher receive a remarkable and instructive commendation in the REMOVAL OF THE CHAFF when the corn is winnowed? He hopes that he shall so thresh as that the subsequent process of the fan shall thoroughly purge the floor. Terrible will be the sanction that God, the Judge of all, will give to every rejected message: the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous: they are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
IV. THE TERMINATION OF MINISTERIAL TOIL is suggested by this metaphor: when the husks and chaff are separated from the grain, the husbandman threshes it no longer. Further, this specific toil of all who labour for the immortal welfare of others shall cease for ever when the number of the elect is accomplished: the dusty and tedious process of threshing is not needed in our garners; and it is in hope of this remoter happiness that he that plougheth and he that thresheth engage in their respective labours; they shall rejoice together. To conclude, let it ever be remembered that though the Word of God is the ordinary threshing instrument, yet it is not the only one; for there is a variety of implements used for this purpose (Isaiah 28:27). So where the Word fails of producing the desired effect, He will try the flail of adversity; by this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away sin.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?