Summary: As long as the internet is the key tool used to communicate and there is world-wide awareness of tragic events, there will be that continued threat of ministries and outreaches taking advantage of people who have generous hearts.
Who Do You Partner With In Meeting Needs
The word of God holds a simple truth in the midst of Scripture which can protect us from life’s trap and snares. It seems like as long as the internet is the key tool used to communicate and there is world-wide awareness of tragic events, there will be that continued threat of ministries and outreaches taking advantage of people who have generous hearts. The King James Bible holds a simple truth which is a solid guide to follow, “know those who labor among you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) To “know” (aida) generally means to know instinctively, to have intimate or close relationship with or have knowledge of the work someone is doing for the Lord. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)
This brief passage of Scripture is in the midst of several brief exhortations. Each one is quite capable of standing on its own, just like many of the Apostle Paul’s instructions and benedictions of which holds truths for all who read them. (Martin, D. M. (1995). 1, 2 Thessalonians (Vol. 33, p. 170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Although the context deals with how people are to respect and esteem those who are over them “in the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) the King James Bible uses, “to know” (aida) is a key truth to focus on.
If you look at this passage of Scripture in the other translations, it could appear we are simply to show respect and esteem “those who work hard, care for us in the Lord and admonish us” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) just because someone holds a position in the church structure. Not knowing the application of this one key truth which is wonderfully interpreted by the King James Bible, “to know” (aida) has opened the door to people holding religious position who are not appointed by the Lord nor do they have the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Thus, people have been sexually assaulted, the spiritually blind lead the blind and the innocent have been scammed out of their hard earned money.
All mature outreaches which deserve your prayers, participation and financial support will be upfront with their vision, their call and be fully accountable. We see this truth in the Biblical account of Peter’s work with the Lord.
The Biblical accounts of the Apostle Peter’s outreach lays out the foundational truths to “[knowing]” those who labor among us. The Bible says, “The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him… Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened… When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God.” (Acts 11:1-4, 18)
A successful outreach of any kind begins with a desire to be a “devout” person, one who wants to please God. (Acts 10:1-2) A “devout” (eusebes) person is respectful to God and the things regarding to worship and honoring Him. (Complete Word Study of the Bible; Vines Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament) A successful outreach that meets the needs of others and brings praise to the Lord must be birthed from a heart that is “God-fearing” (phobeo) meaning to have a reverential obedience toward God. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon)
In determining what work for the Lord you participate in begins with determining if the outreach is center around pleasing God and pointing the people you help to the Lord’s blessing and intervening for them. This is the foundation for receiving revelation from God. Cornelius and the Apostle Peter were God-fearing and devout servants of the Lord, thus God gave them the same revelation. (Acts 10:1-22)
Ministries or outreaches must be clear in their vision, and they must be able to substantiate their work. (Acts 10:23-48) A ministry worth your participation and financial support must have witnesses who are known to be able to give a trustworthy account. (Act 10:45; 11:12) The Bible says, “…these six brothers were with me.” (Acts 11:12) These brothers were Christians who were able to determine what a real work of God was. It should be noted that Peter took double the number of witness needed to substantiate a testimony. (1 Timothy 5:19) No doubt Peter expected trouble and criticism – he wisely and correctly did what it took to get people to accept, understand and prove his work was genuine.
When you are considering participating in a work which helps those who have needs, consider learning from a quality ministry which can walk you through the process of determining a genuine work. Make sure you partner with ministries or outreaches which look for overseers who will hold them accountable as Peter was in his work with the Lord.