x533.......Acts 20----Give To The Weaker!!
I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20: 33-35 NKJV)
Paul is addressing the elders at Ephesus in these verses. He makes a big point of saying that he specifically did not ask for money for his ministry. He did not ask for support for his work--but rather he worked his trade (Paul was a tentmaker) in order to support himself and the people whom he traveled with--his fellow solders--his apostolic band.
He states that the purpose of him doing this is to bring out an important message and example--which Jesus Himself had set--
"you must support the weak"
All of the giving of the church in the Bible was "to the saints"--to the poor which were in the church--in order to assure that "none had any lack"--it was to make sure that all the members of the body of Christ could operate in their gifts in their ministries--so that all that God had given could be used--so that every member could operate in their anointings--and so the body would be most effective.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members
of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-31, KJV).
Note what the Bible says about the church--the comparison of it to the body--the members of the body are all different--and yet we need every one. Some may seem "less comely"--some may seem weaker--yet we are to support every member--and in fact the lesson is that we should give greater support to those weaker members--we should be giving to the poor within the church. Because among those poor are apostles and prophets and teachers of the word--and those who have gifts of healing and miracles etc. What the Bible is saying here is that we won't see all that God has given--unless we feed the poor--help the weaker members--and build them all up so that every member counts--so that every member operates in his or her ministry.
The supporting of the weaker members--the giving to the poor is exactly the opposite system to that which is common within most of our churches today. We have taken on a human tradition--a tradition which comes from the dark ages--from the feudal system--and in fact ultimately from the government of the Roman empire which has so strongly influenced the Christian church for hundreds of years. We as Christians ought to open-minidedly study our own history. The fact is that Roman emperors and medieval popes are responsible for many of our common church traditions. Leaders that lived in the dark ages have given us our church format (which occupies so much of our time, effort and money!) and subverted the apostolic operational plan of Jesus' church in the Bible, thus replacing apostlship with Roman hierarchy based on old covenant myths and misinterpretations.
In our churches today, we support the strongest Christians in our group. We support and give our money to the strongest man in the group--to the person who can persuade the majority to give to them--or can prove themselves out to be the greater minister--the greatest teacher/speaker. This the way the Roman empire worked--and is exactly how medieval European government operated--feudal lords--who fought brutally for power over the peasants--for control and ownership of the land and the people whom they enslaved. Now, certainly we do not think in these extreme terms as the church of the dark ages did--yet we still continue in this "backward tradition". We still continue to give our support to the strongest among us--rather than to the weakest. (Think how firm a tradition it is, to give to the strong leader of the church---rather than directly to the needy brothers and sisters we sit next to each week in church!)
This is yet another thing which we humbly suggest as "something to try"--a "what if"---What if we decided to give to the poor within the church--- instead of to the "pastor"--- the leader of the church? What if we concentrated on building every member into ministry? What if we gave to those who had lack in our churches--with the idea of encouraging them to serve God--rather than to have to struggle with worldly problems of poverty. Wouldn't that make the church an attractive place? Wouldn't that fill our churches with repentant souls--and people who are truly wiling to serve---rather than people who are held under authority and taught to endlessly receive and give money in return?
Oh, I can hear the "voice of practicality"--"Something like that would never work!" "People need a strong leader and firm organization--the leaders of the church are the only ones who have been educated and trained to handle these things" "If we gave to the poor we would have a bunch of destitute, sick, poor people in our nice church---which we've worked so hard and long to build"
All the "practical" voices speak directly against the Biblical ministry of Jesus. They tell us that they want "good-ole' Sunday church"--where everyone knows everyone else---where you "feel at home"--where you know exactly what is going to happen every week.
In other words, we want what we want----we want what we know---and we really don't want a move of God.