Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 29th

Follow My Example

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 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.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

It is very helpful to remember that these great men of God who taught all these marvelous truths in the Scripture were not isolated from the ordinary working world, but were involved in it. Paul had every right, he says, to cease from work. Jesus had said, The laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7b KJV), i. e., if someone preaches and teaches you spiritual truth, he has the right to expect to be supported in order to have time for his ministry. This is the whole reasoning behind having pastors who are paid. The apostle recognizes this. He says, Yes, I have that right, but I chose not to do it. Why? Because I did not want to be a burden to anybody.

I believe he is referring primarily to the establishing of a church. Paul was a pioneer. He went into places where there were no churches at all and began to preach, and thus brought a church into being. It is these people, fresh out of paganism, with no recognition in their lives of the value of spiritual truth until they came to Christ, that he wants to set free from the responsibility of supporting him. Later on he did receive help from churches. He thanks the Philippians for the help they sent to him. So it is not true, as some have claimed, that he did not ever take money from those whom he had led to Christ, but in the beginning he did not do so because he did not want to be a burden on anyone. He worked night and day, laboring at his trade of tent making, in order that he might pay people for the food that he was eating. It is clear from this, that he deliberately left a model for others in order that they might understand how to reach out to others with the message of salvation without cost to them.

I was thinking of Paul the other day as I watched on television the media's reaction to the moral collapse of a television evangelist. I watched as this man left his 2.5 million dollar mansion, boarded his private plane, and flew to a meeting at which he was to make the vivid confession that all the country has seen. Suddenly into my mind there flashed the picture of the great Apostle Paul, working by candlelight late into the night (perhaps long after midnight), sewing his canvasses together to make tents to sell the next morning, so he would have money to pay for the food he was eating. What a contrast! It occurred to me that if that evangelist had not been so self-indulgent in his lifestyle, he might have had more spiritual power to resist the temptations to which he succumbed.

Father, thank you for those who labor over me, teaching me the word of God. Teach me to help them and encourage them so they can continue to serve you.

Life Application

What is your attitude towards those who shepherd and teach and rely on others for their support? In your mind, is the laborer worthy of his hire?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Is Work a Curse?

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