"Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent his full time preaching and testifying to the Jews, telling them, "The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus."" (Acts 18:3-5 NLT)

 

For full-time ministers, the end goal of tent-making is to stop the need for tent-making. However, for lay people, they are already doing it: build their careers, make money, and give a portion of their time to serve the Lord.

 

It is entirely different with people who claim to be called of God. The higher calling is not about making money, but it’s all about service to the King and the kingdom. We all have roles to carry out.

 

In Acts 18, the Apostle Paul temporarily worked to support himself. He was in a situation that lasted only for a month or so, and then got back to what he was suppose to do –the full-time work of the ministry.

 

"So, brothers, choose seven of your own men. They must be men who are good. They must be full of wisdom and full of the Spirit. We will put them in charge of this work. Then we can use all our time to pray and to teach the word of God." (Acts 6:3-4 ICB)

 

Biblical deacons and pastors have the same encounter with people. Lay people do most of the practical work, while pastors do most of the spiritual work. Full-time ministers are not hermits that just spend time with God, but they do pray to receive power to set God’s people free from whatever bondage they may have. Shepherds spend time with the sheep. God’s servants can’t do that if they’re busy with their secular work.

 

It’s true that our present circumstances are entirely different from the Bible times, but the principles and power of the Bible have not changed – even up to this present time. This calls for wisdom.

 

"A soldier wants to please his commanding officer, so he does not waste his time doing the things that most people do." (2 Tim 2:4 ICB)

 

Pastors are committed to a charge of accountability. They do things best within God’s set boundaries. Tent-making is necessary because the flock doesn’t yet know how to feed themselves, let alone support the ministry. But when God’s man and woman willfully stay with or return to tent-making, something bad happens.

 

"Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."" (Luke 9:62 NIV)

 

If the pastor doesn’t take the next step of faith, the members won’t also. If the leader will not stand his ground and hold on to God’s promises, then the followers will not, too.

 

Tent-making has side effects because the human soul tends to gravitate towards pleasure. Pastors consciously swim against the current of this world, every day. Making money is not the primary concern of full-time pastors, but winning souls and discipleship are. God's heart for His people and the lost is enough to wake up early in the morning, and to stay late at night. It’s true that 'a live dog is better than a dead lion,' but it is much truer that God will take care of His servants.

 

Just as tents are temporary, so is tent-making. It is only a means to an end, but this end will not always justify the means. We are called to build God a solid altar, not a tent. Yes, we start with tents, but we finish with a growing legacy of a people being discipled and cared for.

 

In closing, we go out there, trek on the road less traveled, or better yet, make our own path, and pitch God’s tent. Then, progress! Build God an altar, and serve Him faithfully. Establish the kingdom of God by building a church.

(first image by ChristArt)

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