“Be content with your wages,” said John the Baptist to the soldiers (Luke 3: 14) .
The Greek word for wages (opsonia -- ops OH nee ah) meant literally “money to buy food.” It was a familiar military term and referred to the minimum subsistence pay which soldiers received. They had a legal right to these wages and could sue in court if not paid. After all, without this basic pay, the soldier could not live.
This word became common in the everyday writings (papyri) of the New Testament age. It was used for a policeman's salary, money to keep a music student in school, provisions for an athlete, and the allowance given to a son living away from home. In every instance, the pay was necessary to support life.
Paul reminded the Corinthians that no soldier was expected to provide his own wages (1 Cor 9:7). Yet Paul did not demand his rightful wages from the Corinthians. Instead, he made tents (Acts 18:3) and accepted wages from other churches (2 Cor 11:8). While the pay was minimal, Paul was serving the Commander of his choice, and he was content.
The word for wages is used only one other time in the New Testament. In Romans 6:23 a commander of a different sort is in charge, but the soldier should still expect to receive his pay. (After all, how can a man live without his wages?) But the commander’s name is Sin and the deserved subsistence wage is . . . death!
So, soldier, make your choice! Choose your commander; expect your pay. But remember: “Be content with your wages.”