Lessons from Luke: no shirt, no staff, no money
Another edition of our ongoing series entitled, Lessons from Luke. Since the Gospel of Luke was most likely written to a man of means, a man by the name of Theophilus, Luke spends much of the book discussing the issues of wealth and money. Here at Gather Little by Little, we have been systematically moving through the book in an attempt to survey all of the various statements about money that it contains. Several weeks ago, we discussed the story of the Matthew the Tax Collector. Our passage today comes from Luke 9:1-5:
And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Here we have Christ sending out his disciples as his ambassadors and investing them with His power. Can you imagine the various responses from the disciples after Jesus finished with the instructions? More than one had to have thought, “I get to perform miracles and cast out demons? Cool!”
But I wonder how many of them were distracted by Jesus’ commands regarding their luggage and the stuff that they were to take with them? Was this instruction a stumbling block? Did any of the men try to sneak along a second tunic or some spare change? I certainly would have been tempted to do so. The Bible does not spend a great deal of time on this particular aspect of Christ’s ministry so we do not know many of the details about how well this particular evangelistic effort unfolded, but there are a few principles here that will challenge those of us who are also striving to be disciples in how we handle our money.
- Just in case there are any misconceptions – this passage does not allow believers to perform miracles. This was a unique moment in history where the apostles were given specific dispensation to do so.
- Christ wanted his disciples to practice full reliance on Him alone. He gave them no time or room to prepare for their ministry for fear that they might be fooled into thinking that they had accomplished something by their own strength.
- God used the charity of other people in order to meet the needs of the disciples. Are we always looking for opportunities to care for the needs of those who minister in Christ’s name?
- On the flip side, for those who minister in a full-time capacity, are you humble enough to accept a gift or aid from those to whom you minister? In the USA, it can be a humbling thing to admit reliance on anyone other than ourselves.
- Refusing to meet the needs of God’s ministers was seen as a major offense, one that God would punish.
- It is important to note that there did come a time in Christ’s ministry where he instructed the disciples to plan ahead and take many of these same items on their journeys. However, that did not preclude them from reliance on Him alone.
So how about us? Do we pass on opportunities for ministry on the basis of finances? Are we worried that God will not provide? What about those of us who have the means to give support to those in ministry? Are we generous or stingy?