What do you think about all this? In some ways it is about God’s work and workers but it really is a kind of litmus test for the health of a church body. How do you suppose the Corinthian church responded when this letter was read to them? Good grief, another offering? Why do I care about the Jerusalem church? Little Timothy’s coming? The Great Apollos isn’t coming? Who does Paul think he is? Their response would say a lot, wouldn’t it?
The same is true for us. The portrait here is of a kind of Christianity that is liberal and generous to God and anyone working for His glory. We’re collecting for this other church. I might need a place to stay the winter. Need some fellows to deliver a gift (no small walk to Jerusalem to do that). Take care of Timothy. Open your wallets. Open your homes. Open your hearts to the work of God. Everyone be a part of it. By being a part of it, all God’s people are God’s workers.
If I might just speak from my own experience. I have been in vocational ministry for coming on 19 years. Over the years, God’s people have refreshed me in so many ways. In my earlier years, I often lived with families who opened their homes and basements to the young pastor. In fact, I was living in the basement of a family’s home when Bethel called me here to be the pastor here. I was happy as a clam down there. Over the years, so many notes and affirmations and encouragements have kept me going. People who are personal with me. Poke fun on Facebook. Assure me of prayers. Provide meals and kind gestures of all different kinds. When I was in my accident 2 months ago, a family in the church welcomed me into their home late at night because I needed someone to wake me in the night to insure I didn’t have a concussion. No problem. Come on over. They were happy to do it.
I was Timothy when I came here. Twenty-nine, young and wet behind the ears. You “put me at ease among you” and I have tried “to do the work of the Lord.”
This is one of the great blessings of local church community. We are partners together. We’re all God’s workers supporting and doing God’s work. When a church is generous together, there’s no better place to be.
A word to our families. Parents, let me encourage you to model support for God’s work and workers for your children. Let them see you partnering in ministry. Have Christian workers in your home; visiting missionaries and people involved in ministry. My family did that growing up and we’d listen with wide eyes to stories of what God was doing around the world. It was a big highlight in our family. Makes strong impressions on children who are shaping their priorities somewhat on what they see in you. Be a huge Cubs fan and your son will likely be a Cubs fan. Be a huge Democrat or Republican and your daughter will likely be the same. Have a huge heart for God’s work and your children will be influenced greatly. Might not be a coincidence my brother and I are both vocational pastors. Get those prayers cards on the fridge. Have a ministry of the month and write letters to encourage. In your family prayers, pray for specific ministries and workers. Show your kids generous partnership in God’s work. You will be the richer for it.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2011 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address (http://www.bethelweb.org/) on the copied resource.