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The Added Things
God has called all saints to live by faith. Some of them “get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). Others get their living from wages, commissions, or profits. It is not a question of better or worse, but one of obedience. What has God summoned me to do? Am I willing to receive my daily bread by whatever avenue God chooses to provide it? Would I be willing to live by the gospel if He asked me to do that? Or to work for wages if that were His call?
The Bible marks out at least four legitimate reasons for desiring money:
The first area concerns our own needs. Paul wrote that the Thessalonian believers were to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). He repeated his instructions in his second letter to this same church: “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). We may conclude, then, that any shortages of funds to meet our own needs, the needs of our families, or others in our sphere of responsibility can be legitimate motivation for asking God to increase our pay.
Secondly, Scripture tells us to give of our material goods to those who instruct us in the faith. “And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches” (Galatians 6:6). Many who preach or teach may forego this right, as Paul sometimes did. But it is clearly scriptural that a worker in God’s Garden, the Church, should enjoy some of the material produce. The desire to give more to those who teach us in the faith is a second legitimate reason for asking our heavenly Employer for additional funds.
[T]hirdly, that of helping to support Christian workers who have gone out to reach others. . . Here is what we commonly call “missionary giving,” springing from the God-given right of those who proclaim the gospel to earn their living from the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14). In the Great Commission, Jesus told His Church to go into every part of the world proclaiming the gospel. Obviously, He did not mean for every single individual to go into every part of the world. . . But without the support of those who stay and work to earn and give, how could the others go? Thus, by our joint participation, each doing the part assigned by God, we corporately carry out Jesus’ command to go. If our desire for more money stems from our wanting to engage more heavily in missionary giving, then we stand on scriptural ground in making our request.
[Fourthly], giving to the poor and needy. The Bible has more to say about our responsibilities for giving here than in any other area. Many Old Testament passages remind God’s people to remember the poor. For example: “Is this not the fast which I choose . . .? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh [i.e., not to disappear when your own relatives are in need]?” (Isaiah 58:67).
We can be confident, then, that if we are asking God for more pay in order to meet needs in any of these four areas (i.e., providing for our own family needs, sharing with those who teach or preach, supporting missionary work, and giving to those in need), we are asking for help in areas approved by Him.
Like Daniel, we who follow Christ should keep our priorities in the proper order. Our central attention should be focused upon Christ, not upon the “main things” of this world. For us the “main thing” is the kingdom of God and His righteousness, to allow our righteous King to rule us on this earth. Anything else is not the “main thing,” but simply an “added thing.”
Excerpt from Serving Christ in the Workplace by Larry Peabody
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© 2004 by CLC Publications. Used by permission of CLC Publications. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.