Donations – BT1
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Why is our ministry following the Apostle Paul’s team financial example?
Just like Paul and Barnabas did, I have no intention of making my living off ministry, but instead work for a living like most everybody else, currently by playing and teaching drums professionally. You can see from my story in About Us that this is not the identity God gave me, but I’m really just learning how to walk more fully into “You are an anointed musician . . .” My wife also has a day job and an antique booth. God has always provided a job – I’ve never collected unemployment once! God will continue to provide!
Paul and his companions were tent-makers but they used their spare time to evangelize (a). Paul’s job “served his necessities and those who were with him” (b). He “preached God’s gospel to them free of charge” (c). He didn’t “want to make himself a burden to them” (d). He said they “labored and toiled, working night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (e). He and his group “labored, working with our own hands” (f). <Notes> a) Acts 18:3-4, b) Acts 20:34, c) 2 Corinthians 11:7, d) 2 Corinthians 12:13, e) 1 Thessalonians 2:9, f) 1 Corinthians 4:12.
They even gave Christians a command “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and/thus not in accordance with the tradition that you have received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we don’t have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this charge: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we charge and encourage by the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living (a). And that “earning their own living” sure wasn’t “doing ministry,” even if you think you have the ‘right’ to be compensated for “the Lord’s work.” Paul would have called such people “walking in idleness, not busy at work.” It seems like most paid church staff sure hasn’t read this! <Notes> a) 2 Thessalonians 3:6-11.
Again Paul says he will not exercise this so-called ‘right.’ In 1 Corinthians 9:12, 15, and 18, Paul reiterates what he said above: “We have not made use of this ‘right,’ but we will endure anything [even hunger] rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ . . . I have made no use of any of these ‘rights,’ nor am I writing to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my grounds for boasting. . . . What then is my reward (it sure wasn’t their money)? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my ‘right’ in the gospel.” Whatever his ‘rights’ were, the great apostle Paul to the known Gentile world sure didn’t think that he or his companions should exercise them! Why is it that so many churches think they should? I thought we were told to “be imitators of me (Paul), as I am of Christ” (a), for “you know how you ought to imitate us” (b). Paul is implying that he is a tentmaker (c) because he is following the Lord’s example. The Lord told me once that He gave Paul such work not just to make money but to work with Him to reach people others wouldn’t have reached. Paul was actually sharing (d) in the Lord’s work! In other words, it wasn’t just a job! Christians, and certainly ministers, should follow Paul’s team example as they followed Christ’s example, and Paul charges them to do this “by the name/authority of Jesus.” Wasn’t Christ a carpenter for 30 years and only a missionary-preacher for 3 short years? <Notes> a) 1 Corinthians 11:1, b) 2 Thessalonians 3:7, c) or possibly a leather worker for books and scrolls, d) koinonia fellowship.