“You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” (I Thessalonians 2:9) -13
So as not to be a financial burden nor to be needful of room and board, Paul and his companions worked to earn a living while at the same time they preached and taught the people of Thessalonica. The comparison I wish to make is so clear and transparent that I almost feel I do not need to spell it out. Leaders, teacher, preachers, ministers in the New Testament (it appears) took it upon themselves to earn a living so that they would not need to solicit money from those they evangelized to. Their leadership was free to those they traveled to. Now, it is not that way in our current churches. Or it is not the norm. There was a time and a movement wherein ministers were part-time, earning wages on their own and not getting a salary from the church. I must tell you, beloved reader, in my recollections that movement did not last long. The interesting thing is, however, where ever Paul “set up his shop” to preach, he also set up his business of tent-making. His preaching and teaching of the gospel may have been free, but his presence meant that he did earn money from the people he preached to. And what if their were other tent-makers who may have lost revenue because the “preacher” Paul was first in line to solicit tent-making business.
“You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (Verses 10 – 12)
I really thought, when I started my line of reasoning on this passage that Paul would turn out to be “innocent” and blameless in his conduct. And he was, in a way. Unlike other leaders in the timeline of called and chosen people, he did not expect monetary gain from his preacher and leadership. No one, beloved reader, should go into ministry to get rich. And by extension, leaders who become rich while being public servants are often times suspect. One should look at the character and publications of leaders, as well as their conduct. And base judgment on that.
“We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.” (Verse 14)
If you have sensed, beloved reader, that my reflections this week thus far have a slightly political bent – you have sensed astutely. Not sure where it will lead. It may fizzle out. Or maybe the times and environment in the United States is trickling down even to me! I hope and pray, beloved reader, that I keep to the same principles and noble pursuit – in all this – as Paul did. Shalom & Selah!