Posted by: Brian Musser | May 29, 2014

Working Hard for the Sake of the Gospel

Work-Ship – Week Seven:  Knowing God’s Will for your Work  – Day Forty-Five:  Working Hard for the Sake of the Gospel

We have been concentrating on the idea that work is good. No matter what we are doing (with the exception of blatant sin) we can do it as worship toward God. Any type of work can be seen as ultimately valuable in its relation to God. This is because the image of God can shine through us as we work. We can work like God works. We can work in obedience to God’s command toward humanity to work. We can acknowledge our dependence upon God as we work in His creation and with the skills He has given us. And we work in community being a model of the Trinity in action. We have established that work can be worship. So with that said, what should we be doing?

If there are many available and good options for us, how do we decide what specifically to do?  Does God care what type of work we do?  Should we seek God’s guidance in our career and job choices?  What does that guidance look like?

In the last post we came to the conclusion that a Christian’s work must not interfere with their responsibility to share the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission.  Not only should their work not interfere but it would be of great reward if their work actually helped them be obedient to God’s command for us to make disciples of all nations.  Today we are going to look at some passages that describe Paul’s missionary lifestyle and how his work as a tent-maker is a great example of how you can use your profession to help share your faith.

Acts 18: 1 – 4 (NIV) After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.  There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,  and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.  Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

The first item to note is that Luke refers to Aquila as a Jew.  From this introduction it is proper to assume that at the time of Paul meeting Aquila in Corinth that Aquila was not yet a follower of Jesus.  However; later in Scripture we see that Aquila and his wife Priscilla become “co-workers” with Paul for the sake of the Gospel.  Paul uses the work environment to lead someone to Christ and disciple them.  Their relationship more than likely initiated over their share trade and grew from there.

Acts 20:34-35 (NIV)  You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

The second note is that our work gives us the ability to bless those in need.  Being able to help the weak demonstrates the validity of words of Jesus.  The Gospel is shown to be powerful when we help others  through the resources we gain because of our work.  Ministering to others needs doesn’t make the Gospel true but it does help others see the truth of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:6-18 (NIV)
Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 (NIV) Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

In Corinth and Thessalonica we see Paul chose to work so that the Gospel could be preached to the lost without cost.  He did not want to burden those without Christ with having to pay for the blessing of hearing about Him.  This idea of funding the Gospel with resources outside of the ministry allows for the Gospel to preached in places that would never pay for it themselves.  We share the faith not to those who are willing to invest in it already.  We share the Gospel with anyone and everyone.  We share the Gospel wherever no matter how much money is available.  Grace is a free gift.  The preaching of the Gospel to those you need to hear it should be as well.

2 Thessalonians 3:8-10 (NIV) nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.  We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.  For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Work is a good and blessed thing.  Work is a gift to humanity from God.  it should never be purposefully avoided.  You should not have a negative attitude toward work.  No one is too important to God to be “burdened” with working.  Working should not be seen as a burden and when the circumstances are necessary every single one of should be willing to work and work hard for the sake of the Gospel.

How could your work help you fulfill the Great Commission?  Do you have work colleagues that may become disciples of Jesus?  Do you work so that you can support others sharing the Gospel?  Do you have a job that could support you on the mission field?  Do you give to those who don’t have so that others can see the truth of the Gospel as it changes your life?

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