Summary: Prior to sending the disciples out in ministry, Jesus sought to prepare them for the task ahead. He did not promise it would be easy, but He did promise to provide for them. We share the same promises. Service isn't always easy, but the Lord is faithful to provide.
Conditioned to Serve
Matthew 10: 9-15
As we continue to examine the instructions Jesus gave the disciples prior to sending them out to share their faith, we discover additional benefit for our lives and witness as well. While these were sent solely to the house of Israel, prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the principles Jesus gave remain relevant for all who share the Gospel today.
Unfortunately, the ministry approach by many today bears little resemblance to the model Jesus provided for disciples engaging our culture. Contrary to popular approaches today, Jesus never promised their efforts would be easy or embraced by the masses. He did not promise wealth and privilege because of their association with Him. In fact, Jesus sought to prepare the disciples for the reality of genuine ministry in a fallen world.
Our culture may be different, but the struggles facing the disciples remain in our day. We live in a fallen world, surrounded by those who need the Gospel. Many will reject the truth, and the journey will be difficult. However, we have been called to proclaim the Gospel to the nations. In order to be effective, we must properly prepare for the work we are called to perform. As we discuss the instructions Jesus provided in the text, let’s consider: Conditioned to Serve.
I. Go in Faith (9-10) – As Jesus sent the twelve out, He essentially instructed them go in faith, trusting the Lord to provide for each need they encountered. We too must be willing to go in faith as we endeavor to serve the Lord, fulfilling the Great Commission. Notice:
A. The Preparation (9) – Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, [10a] Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves. The disciples were going on a journey, being away from their usual place of lodging for an extended period. Jesus provided instruction on what they were to take as they went. The disciples were not expected to take gold, silver, or brass with them. They were not to take a leather bag used to store additional food supplies. They were not to take two coats, referring to a tunic or shirt; nor were they to take extra shoes or an additional staff. These instructions were not intended to send the disciples our ill-prepared, nor leave them in a place of hardship. This was done so the disciples would learn to depend upon the Lord while serving Him, focused solely on their calling, rather than material goods and pleasures.
The text does not imply that those engaged in ministry should not effectively prepare for the task at hand, but it does reveal that we too must learn to walk by faith. We cannot be effective serving the Lord if our focus is constantly upon our needs and welfare.
It also raised the question in my mind – does one ever feel fully prepared for the work God has given us? Do we ever feel we’ve obtained all the resources and wisdom we need to engage in ministry? If we wait until we feel comfortable, we will never go. Like the disciples, we too must step out in faith, trusting the Lord to guide our path and provide our needs.
B. The Provision (10b) – for the workman is worthy of his meat. Jesus told the disciples that those to whom they ministered would provide for them as they traveled. In their faithfulness to serve, the Lord would provide for them through the kindness of others. When such provision was offered, the disciples could readily accept their hospitality without embarrassment. Their faithfulness to the Lord made them worthy of receiving the blessing of others. Jesus would provide for them through the kindness of strangers so they would not lose focus of the task at hand.
Unfortunately, this text has been taken out of context for gain, or completely ignored. Some use it as a means to justify exorbitant salaries in ministry. They never seem to have enough, always looking for more wealth because they feel entitled because of ministry. Jesus did not speak these words to encourage ministers to become rich and live extravagant lifestyles. On the other hand, some resent the salary a pastor, evangelist, or missionary receives for their ministry efforts. The Lord ordained the church to provide for those who labor in ministry. God will bless those who faithfully care for their pastor. 1 Cor.9:14 – Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
II. Abide in Fellowship (11-13) – Jesus now offers instruction regarding their stay in a particular area, and the fellowship they should enjoy with those to whom they minister. Notice:
A. The Inquiry (11a) – And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy. As they came into a city or town, they were to enquire where those of moral and spiritual character could be found. The disciples were then to seek accommodations with such as these. This was done to safeguard their own spiritual well-being, as well as preserve the effectiveness of their testimony. The Lord wanted them to engage the lost, but also guard their reputation in order to be effective in ministry. No doubt, these would be advantageous to the work.