This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the Four Gospels* is about Jesus’ ordaining and providing.
Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Matthew 10:9-10
Reading this verse I am reminded of George Mueller, the 19th century’s great man of faith who built orphanages that cared for more than 10,000. He also established 117 schools that educated London’s children, some of whom were orphans. He accomplished this without ever having done any fundraising. There were times when the cupboards had no food minutes before dinner, and then a truck would pull up with enough food for them. I recall too Bruce Olson (book Bruchko), who in 1962 at the age of 19 with no financial resources flew to Venezuela and hiked up into the mountains to bring the Gospel to the violent Motilones. He made first contact with this primitive stone-age tribe, but in time he gained their confidence. Approximately 70% believed in Jesus, and some have gone on to become doctors and lawyers and other professionals. More recently, a financial class attendee was trying to live on a budget and avoid borrowing, but she didn’t have enough money for any more groceries at the end of the month. She had loads of laundry to do for her family, but no soap. It would be tempting to charge it, but a knock on the door from a friend bringing detergent was her answer to prayer. The friend felt that she needed it, so she brought it over. A friend of mine with a family of 8 exists without fundraising on a low income of contributions to the financial ministry he brings to many churches. I know of many more examples.
We believe that Jesus ordains people in various religious roles and vocations. We see the laying on of hands on new pastors and church planters. We pray for their work, protection and success–but what about their finances? Outside of church there are many other ordained responsibilities. Parenting is ordained, as are the areas Jesus calls us to: to work to make money to provide for our needs, and to be salt and light to the world around us. Many of us feel called into this or that line of work, paid ministry or volunteering. Sometimes he calls us into work that has low pay and an expensive college education in fields such as social work.
We often wonder when we consider venturing out, if we will have enough supplies for the journey. Jesus’ disciples were wondering the same thing. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus told them to not take extra clothes or money, that he would provide for them, even though he wasn’t physically with them. Why does Jesus do this? Doesn’t he want us to be like the wise builder? For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him (Luke 14:28-29). The scriptures appear to be in conflict here, don’t they? In actuality, they are in agreement, reading Luke 14:33. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. The cost of being a disciple is letting go of being self-sufficient and putting our trust in him to provide for us during the journey he as appointed us to take. Jesus wasn’t just sending them out to do ministry to others, he was stretching them by asking them to let go and depend on him.
The other side of the equation is for us to be the ones providing for others. Jesus calls us to be the ones writing the checks for those ministering to us, to those called to go afield. He prompts us to buy laundry detergent or other groceries for people in need. The challenge for us today is to be interruptible and to avoid being so busy that we can’t hear his quiet voice when he directs us to buy for others, to donate, and to make changes in ministry or vocation, even when the financial odds seem to be stacked against us.
There are financial planning applications that are helpful too. For those preparing for ministry or vocation calling, or wanting to help others more, he wants us to be free of debt and to live well below our means so that we can accomplish what we feel Jesus is asking of us.
*A chronological examination of any verse that involves money and stewardship, attempting to see the new light that Jesus shines on money in his selfless, grace filled, Holy Spirit empowered, and Kingdom oriented positions. This is the eleventh post in this series.