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June 28, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Not a Burden to Anyone Today

“For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of  you, we proclaimed the Gospel of God.”

1 Thessalonians 2:9 Page 1846  

         I understand that nearly half of the households in America do not pay federal income taxes.  Yet, most of the income tax the government collects comes from households, not businesses.  As a nation, Americans have chosen to tax only half of the households.  One half burdens the other half.  American politicians refuse to confront this problem by reducing the federal deficit, and paying down the national debt.  Social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Welfare Programs cannot be sustained under the present tax system.  Americans continue to elect people to office who have bankrupted the country.  The financial burden comes in two forms: (1) too much government spending; and (2) too few people paying taxes.  The people paying the taxes often resent the burden imposed by the half not paying taxes, especially by those who act illegally, or receive government benefits without citizenship or resident alien status.  Government does not impose the taxes, the population of America imposes the taxes through their votes.  Anytime America wanted to change the tax system, it could vote for change.  Yet, half the households want to continue the present tax and spending system, because they enjoy its benefits.

       Paul knew that the way to avoid being a financial burden upon the Thessalonians was to work “night and day” (1 Thessalonians 2:9, page 1847).  According to Paul, the ministry team at Thessalonica endured hardship.  This term “hardship” includes suffering, like having sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, enduring cold and exposure (2 Corinthians 11:27, 1816).  Paul linked this term hardship with never eating anyone’s bread without paying for it (2 Thessalonians 3:8, page 1853).    The ministry team did not come to Thessalonica looking for financial support.  Instead, it brought the Gospel of God to the people, and supported themselves by working night and day so that they would not burden anyone.

        Recently, a friend of mine told me that his girlfriend’s brother had moved into the place he lives with his girlfriend and their infant girl.  He made it very plain that he would not tolerate the other man’s presence in the home for more than a week or so.  The other man had to find work, and do it right away.  People resent supporting people who have the ability to work, but do not work.  Every believer understands the need to support the poor, especially those who are unable to work.  If we see our brother or sister without clothing or in need of daily food, we must feed them and clothe them (James 2:16, page 1889).  Yet everyone who can work, should work at sharing the Gospel of God, and do it without burdening the people who receive it.

       Paul made it very plain that anyone who joined the ministry team would be expected to work.  Not only would they work, but they would also be required to labor night and day and experience hardship.   I am sure that no one was thinking it would be easy and financially profitable to join the ministry team and reap big financial rewards.  Instead, they would impart their very lives, and enjoy the spiritual rewards of friendships in Christ, building value both today and forever.

      So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●   Strong bonds of friendship form when we do not place a financial burden on people with whom we share the Gospel of God.

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we work night and day, and then remind people how we worked to avoid being a burden for them.

      ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we place financial burdens on people which detract from the ministry.

Application for Today

        Today, I want to avoid being a financial burden to anyone with whom I share the Gospel of God.  I will work night and day to support myself as I spread the Gospel.  Are you a burden today?

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