Daily Reform, Day 88
Galatians 2:10 & 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12
From the Reformer
Next to the preaching of the Gospel, a true and faithful pastor will take care of the poor. Where the Church is, there must be the poor, for the world and the devil persecute the Church and impoverish many faithful Christians.
Speaking of money, nobody wants to contribute nowadays to the maintenance of the ministry, and the erection of schools. When it comes to establishing false worship and idolatry, no cost is spared. True religion is ever in need of money, while false religions are backed by wealth.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
Jesus told Judas that there would always be poor people (John 12:8), suggesting a few things to the disciple’s conscience. Beyond the obvious jab at Judas’ heart, one additional suggestion might have been, Choose wisely how you spend your resources. When dealing with needy people it is easy to run out of resources, energy, and patience. So let me just admit it: the poor are a problem for this pastor. Over almost 30 years of ministry I have encountered a steady flow of needy people to the parsonage, especially during the first few years of ministry at each of the five churches I have served. After awhile, people figure it out and spread the word: Getting something out of this guy is not going to be easy or quick.
“What church do you attend?” I ask. Sometimes they give me a name so I ask them what the pastor’s name is and then, What did he preach about last Sunday? and finally, “Why isn’t your church helping you?” All of these are of course unwelcome questions. Never mind that they asked me to pay their rent or power bill or just provide plain old cash—all unwelcome requests. These folks somehow expect the Church to process their requests without question and with a big smile. Not me. Not often. Not usually. The “poor” whom the apostles were so concerned for were “the poor among the saints in Jerusalem” (Rom 15:26), not everybody insisting on a handout. Even the missionaries worked for their keep and insisted others do so (2Thes 3:10). But if you needed help because you could not help yourself, the church would be there for you (Acts 2:45).
Meanwhile, those able to work must work to supply the means to bring Christ to the world. That takes money even if your name is Jesus or Paul. If we are busy spending the plate on everyone who comes along then Christ will not be proclaimed far.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers