We are all royal priests (1 Peter 2:9) and called to some ministry but there are different callings and not everyone is called to major on preaching the Word of God. God is calling many to preach the Word of God to the places where no one has made an impact, but today, as then, many believers prefer to give only to things that benefit themselves and their own spiritual needs. The apostle Paul commended those Philippians who gave to his work and supplied his physical necessities, but even this great apostle had to make tents at times, and labour to support his own needs AND THOSE of his team (Acts 20:34). Paul told the Philippians that out of all the churches ONLY THEY shared with him in the matter of giving and receiving.
This arrangement of self-supporting was not ideal, though Paul was happy that he was going to be especially rewarded by the Lord for doing this. See, Paul said that the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel (1Co 9:14) “Thus also the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to live from the gospel”.
The lack of financial giving to the apostle Paul’s ministry at times had to do with the spiritual warfare he was engaged in such an important pioneering work. He was always going outside of the comfort zone to establish new churches in new areas, whereas naturally speaking, he probably could have built a huge church in one place, diligently taught everyone to give to his ministry and sent out relative neophytes with one or two years experience to do the hard pioneering work. Paul however taught that spiritual parents should save up for their children, not the other way around (2 Corinthians 12:14) – but he also taught that there is FRUIT which comes to the account of those who give to the needs of pioneering ministers and their ministries.
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit which is increasing to your account.” (Philippians 4:17).
It was the love of God which constrained Paul. He was going to serve the Lord whether he had abundant provision or not. He was charged by the Lord to do this.
Paul said in the letter to the Philippians that even in his time, “they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus”. I have also noticed that most Christians today who have money are more interested in a $50000 car or multi-million dollar house, if they can afford it, than to reach an entire city of a million people for a year through television, which currently costs about the same as that car. That is, they seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. And I am sorry to say, that if you believe that Jesus Christ wants you to have the luxury car more than he wants you to reach a million people with the gospel for a year so that many might be eternally saved, YOU HAVE NOT YET GRASPED THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST WHO GAVE UP ALL HIS RICHES IN HEAVEN AND SUFFERED ALL THE EVILS OF THIS WORLD for the sake of OTHERS and their benefit. You may well be one of those spoken of in the last days, “loves of money, lovers of self, lovers of pleasure, having a form of godliness”. When you buy the luxury car that you don’t need (in some professions it is needed to make sales – I am not speaking of that), you are not so much witnessing to the fact that God makes his servants rich. Satan can make his servants just as rich – look around you. What you are actually witnessing to the fact that the luxuries of this world mean more to you than the treasures of eternity OR you are witnessing to the idea that God doesn’t really care if people hear the gospel or not. Take your pick.
For those who wish to remind me to be like Paul in making tents, I would like to remind YOU to be like Paul in winning people to Christ and planting churches. May God help us all to be more like Jesus, and more like Paul. The idea is to embrace the death and suffering so that the resurrection life of Jesus can come to others. Only the love of God can motivate us to do this.
If I can get to the point where, like Paul, donations and on-line businesses generate enough income to support not only my family but my team as well, that means God has trusted me with a lot, and will require a lot from me.
The balance of business, work and ministry depends on God. I realise that many of my readers are Christian ministers and some of you may be struggling financially.
Unless you are a western pastor or overseas missionary it is difficult to get support to do the work of the gospel full time. At times Mari and I work to generate funds for the gospel, at other times a few people have supported us. No one has yet explained to me why pastors should be supported by their congregations, but evangelists should not be. Actually, for true evangelists and church planters there ought to be an ABUNDANCE to finish the job, but it often is not the way, either because God is teaching us dependence on Him in the wilderness while we are being further prepared, or because the people of God have not yet seen this work as a true priority worth sacrificing for.
Many evangelists and those Australians involved in outreach have a dual occupation – they are motivational speakers, artists, salesmen, property developers, doctrors, whatever. Some evangelists become pastors so that they can live from the gospel. My experience is that it doesn’t really help us to be effective in our calling, though. While pastoring in Romania I was eventually so tied down with decision making and pastoral responsibilities that I could no longer effectively preach and minister healing to people on the streets any more. There aren’t many people that do EVERYTHING well, there are a few, and God bless them. I find it takes the support of the Body of Christ in one way or another to really serve with maximum effectiveness.
So please, if you want to talk about making tents and being like the apostle Paul, please take ALL the exhortations of the apostle Paul about ministry for YOURSELF, and imitate him in EVERY way, and not just the ways that suit your lifestyle.
This message is designed to stir you to take action, NOT to give to us, but to GIVE YOURSELF fully to God and fully devote yourself and your resources to somehow spreading the knowledge of the glory of God and the message of salvation to as many as you can before you inevitably pass out of this phase of worldly life into eternity.
God bless you,