Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Earning Our Keep

For so many of us, life has been very hard when you think about all of the things that people go through. In 2007, millions lost their jobs due to the failures experienced in the financial industries. Many not only lost their jobs but also lost their homes. Over time, the economy slowly recovered. People who were out of work found work, but they earned a lot less. Many took jobs out of financial necessity to feed, shelter and clothe their families. It was so very hard on the millions that didn’t have a safety net.

In time, we shook off the nightmare of 2007 and looked forward to better times. As we moved into another decade, we became more optimistic and felt that things were slowly getting back to normal. Once again, we were wrong. 

In 2020, the world was brought to a screeching stop by a virus. Within a short period of time, that virus not only caused disease and death but it also brought financial ruin to millions. Businesses were forced to close and tens of millions of people lost their jobs. Once again, people struggled to make ends meet. Food banks saw more and more people needing assistance and millions more just didn’t know what to do. Each day for most was a struggle and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. 

It is very easy to see the worst things, but I tell you there were bright spots during all of the doom and gloom we were experiencing. People in small communities pulled together. Many, even when they themselves struggled, managed to lend a helping hand to others. Local restaurants soon found their customers ordering take-out or to-go meals. Even when things got worse and cities experienced social unrest, the people of smaller communities resolved to help one another and not be a burden to others. People, like those of the old west, became more self-reliant. This is the true spirit of not only Americans but also of all the people around the world. People work hard for a fair day’s wages and that is what they want to do.

When Paul traveled and visited with the churches, he made sure that he wasn’t a burden to any of them. He worked hard to support himself and didn’t expect handouts or aid. You could say that Paul knew what it meant to work hard and earn his keep. When you look at Paul’s early life, you discover that he was a tentmaker by trade. He came from a devout Jewish family in Taurus.

In chapter two of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he writes, “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.

Even while preaching the Good News, Paul, Silas and Timothy worked hard to earn their keep and wanted to make absolutely sure that they weren't a burden to the believers there. You could easily say that the believers in Thessalonica should have provided for them and allowed them to just preach. I am sure that they provided some level of help, but Paul, Silas and Timothy, being men of God, weren’t just going to sit around. They modeled to others that hard work and faith go hand in hand and that they weren’t going to be a burden on anyone.

In the great history of our own country, we see that type of self reliance in the old west. The people of the small frontier communities worked hard for a living and helped their neighbors when they needed help. Because of that strong sense of self reliance, it was very difficult to accept charity. 

My own father was the same way. He would give a person his last dollar, but, when it came to receiving charity, Dad wasn’t about to take a handout from anyone. It was very difficult for him to admit that he needed help. It is that belief that he instilled in each of his sons.

Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, writes, “And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be.

Paul makes it a point to tell us a couple of very interesting points. The first is that he doesn’t want to be a financial burden to anyone and will never be one ever. The second point is that God always provides a way for his needs to be met. In this case, the brothers from Macedonia provided for him.

The lesson for each of us is simple. We should always work to earn our keep and be a burden to no one. The other part of this lesson is that we should always remember that God will provide for us during the tough times. If God provided for Paul, I can guarantee that He will provide for you as well.

Hard work teaches us all very valuable lessons about life. It is through hard work that we are able to take care of ourselves but also have the ability to share our profit with others who may need some help during the tough times. 

In chapter four of that first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

Our hard work, when seen through the eyes of others, speaks volumes about a life devoted to Christian service. By living a life of piety, courage and industry, we model for the world a life based on Christian values for all to see. We must, using the modern vernacular, not only “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk”. 

When we talk and walk daily as Christians, we can most assuredly stand firm in His grace.     

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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