When we participate in God’s work ministry, it cannot be used as a facility for obtaining living income as well as any financial purposes. When God calls someone to serve Him, it does not start with a hope that from that ministry he will obtain an income to fulfill his needs. It is indeed a paradox, because man acts to get maximum benefit (rationality). It is called a paradox because the life pattern of God’s children who carry on a ministry is different from secular life pattern that is frequently loaded with manipulative and opportunistic attitudes. God’s work ministry is actually a dedication. It is not commercial practice to obtain material benefit for personal interest or any kind of secular advantages, but a dedication directed to God’s interest.
In one of His statements, Jesus said, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”1 A statement that displayed His extreme poverty. From this matter, it shows that Lord Jesus is willing to lose His rights to enjoy material wealth, which is actually His own. This Lord Jesus’ statement also shows that His life on earth was a fight to accomplish a mission, far from any kinds of relaxation. For this mission He was willing to risk His all.
Paul in his letter said, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although He was rich, He became poor for your sakes, so that you by His poverty could become rich.”2 Poverty according to this text is eptocheusen (ἐπτώχευσεν) which means to become poor; this word derives from the word ptocheuo (πτωχεύω) which has a meaning to be a beggar (who has nothing in his life), to become indigent (a man who has no wealth). All of these show His material inability or material poverty. If God who is rich was willing to become poor for our sake, certainly we should be willing to “have no intention to be rich”, because such desire is a romance with the world which makes someone God’s enemy.3 All of our efforts to obtain material wealth should be used for His glory.
Part of exemplar displayed by Lord Jesus from the crucifixion story also shows how a servant of God was willing to release his pleasure for the sake of God’s ministry. Paul ever said to his spiritual son Timothy, “But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that.”4 The implication of this verse is a calling for all of God’s children not to let themselves to be carried away by various personal pleasures more than their love to God’s ministry. Paul did not forbid man to get various life facilities, but he appealed suggested man not to desire more than he needs. He proofed the truth expressed in his letters and his life until his martyrdom in Rome. He did not only speak the truth but also lived his exemplary life.
As a disciple of Lord Jesus, Paul had also the same ministry pattern like his Master. In his testimony he said, “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, and with the trials that happened to me of the plots of the Jews … except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself … I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me.” This life pattern like Paul has become the ministry standard for spiritual leaders of all ages, which basically refers to Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry. A ministry that is willing not to enjoy life pleasure.
1) Luke 9:58; 2) 2Corinthians 8:9; 3) 1Timothy 6:9-10; James 4:4; 4) 1Timothy 6:8.