There was one particular area of Paul’s life that he wanted others to follow. Most do not think about how we view money and hard work as being that important when it comes to ministry, but it is often the indicator of where our hearts really are. Paul clearly shows this.
This principle was presented by Paul to the Thessalonians in his second letter to them. He and those with him were the kind of ministers who “toil and labor…night and day, that [they] might not be a burden to any…but to give in [themselves] an example to imitate” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9). This was a very important example because many were “walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition” they received from Paul. Idleness has many dangers. Paul pointed to some who became “busybodies” – poking their noses into other people’s matters instead of “doing their work quietly and to earn their own living” (3:12).
He spoke of the same principle to the Ephesian elders; “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:34–35).
As Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy, he gave him three models to emulate their qualities; the “good soldier,” the “athlete,” and the “hard-working farmer” (2 Timothy 2:3-6). “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:6). As idleness has many dangers, so hard work has many blessings. This is especially true of leaders in the church. Their example without words will impact the flock and pass on much needed character.
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