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Importance of spiritual leaders providing the proper role model so that we can say as the Apostle Paul did: Imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ.

TODAY: Looking verse 9; could be taken with the portrait of a Mother; certainly she works hard from sun up to sun down; but I think it speaks more to the physical labor of the job context so I have separated this out as a third leadership profile . . . with the picture of a Father reserved for next week

I always find it interesting how TV portrays a pastor – not exactly as a strong man or a hard worker.


A. Model: Laboring Long and Hard – Difficult and Exhausting

1. Transparent Testimony – the Accountability and Integrity of the Model

“For you recall, brethren,”

Paul is not involved in revisionist history – don’t you hate it when people look back on the past and repackage things to try to paint themselves in a good light – rather than being honest and straightforward with the facts…

Paul doesn’t have to resort to any imaginative gymnastics … he has the facts of history on his side as he defends the integrity of his ministry

So important that we act with integrity so that we have this type of transparent testimony – are there some things that we would rather have swept under the rug or not remembered by those to whom we have ministered? God’s recall is perfect and always in accordance with the facts – no sense trying to fool God

2. Hard Work – Difficult and Exhausting

“our labor and hardship” – both in their job situation and in their ministry — it is all wrapped up here in a total life package; not compartmentalized as if one is just secular and the other is super spiritual … trying to please God in everything and be productive for his glory

“Our” – everything that Paul is testifying here is true of the entire missionary team of Paul, Timothy and Silas – It wasn’t that Paul acted a certain way as the head honcho and the others were just insignificant helpers; they worked together as a team

Robert Thomas: Toil translated labor in 1:3 emphasizes the fatigue they incurred in expending themselves, while “hardship” (mochthon) highlights external difficulties encountered in the process.

Opposite of a life of comfort; a life of entertainment; a life of pleasing self

What should characterize a servant? Hard work – doing those difficult things that he is required to do – working with his whole heart to please his master – not just putting on a show some of the time

What did the Israelites complain about during their period of servitude under the Egyptians? The work was too hard and exhausting

Understand that not all hard work must be manual labor

– Certainly advantages to some of the trades – easier to slip into and out of time commitments and adjust your schedule to mesh with your ministry objectives

– But most jobs in today’s world do not fit that category and may involve more mental work than physical work – still the same principle applies of working hard

Two main supporting passages:

2 Cor. 11:23-29

2 Thess. 3:6-10

They had such a conviction regarding the soon return of Christ that many of them had quit their jobs – they figured that they should just be involved in spiritual pursuits … Paul teaching them that they were living irresponsibly; Our problem today is just the opposite: we live like we don’t even believe that Christ is coming back and we allow our jobs to consume us

3. Long Hours – Difficult and Exhausting

“how working night and day” Acts 20:31

Look at how we are influenced by the perspective of work of our entertainment-oriented culture

– work is a bad word – something to be avoided at all costs

– or work is an idol that we bow down to and serve as the highest priority in our life

– the goal is to get by doing as little as possible so that we can have the most time available to feed our appetites and pursue our special pleasures

– we know nothing of working six days and resting on the seventh …. Let’s maximize our vacation days and our personal days and our sick days and our holidays … let’s plan now for a comfortable and relaxing retirement …

Children – now is the time in your life when you are developing your own work ethic – how are you going to approach work?

Theology of Work: need to understand some basic principles:

– Part of man being made in the image of God

– Look at the work of God in Creation – worked six days; rested on seventh

– Look at the work of Adam and Eve in the Garden before the Fall

– Not all designed to accomplish the same type of work

– The Fall brought a curse: Burdensome level of difficulty and frustration

– Now the environment no longer cooperates with our objectives but makes it tough for us

– Now the worker must endure toil, sweat, pain, hardship, difficulty, frustration

– Our needs are no longer met by just plucking the fruit growing in the Garden of Eden

– Purposes of Work


– Not an end in itself – look at what we learn in Ecclesiastes about work

– Not what ultimately defines us

– Not unimportant – cf. charge to the irresponsible Thessalonian believers


– Provide Responsibly for physical needs of our family and dependents

– widows, relatives 1 Thess 4:11-12

– Be a good testimony to a watching world; opportunities to impact others for Christ

– Be productive as a good steward in using all of the creativity and talents that God has entrusted to us

– Principle: if a man won’t work, neither let him eat

– Provide Generously for the physical needs of others

– Contribute to the work of the Lord and the mission of the Church

– local church support

– missionary outreach

– parachurch groups

– Pay taxes as a responsible citizen to support the government

Thomas Jefferson was upset when our country went from a 12-hour to a 10-hour working day. He said they would have too much idle time. But in Paul’s day, it was working 12-14 hours a day; plus he also taught both publicly and privately for long hours

Concept of a Calling to a particular Career:

Do we see the Apostle Paul arguing for some type of calling to full-time Christian ministry …. Where he would consider himself a failure if he went back to making tents for a certain period of time? Certainly he could make a strong argument for being paid full-time:

– the Christian church is just starting up – imperative that the leadership be trained, etc.

– who is better gifted and equipped than Paul to spend his time in the ministry

– how can he justify wasting time in secular pursuits?

– do you find it strange that Christ worked full-time as a carpenter until about the age of 30??? Did he feel that He was above manual labor or working at a trade?

Acts 18:3 – tentmaking trade of Apostle Paul

We need to investigate more carefully that Puritan belief that one’s profession = a divine calling = where you get the word vocation – a calling; One person has been called to be a lawyer; another to be a teacher; another an engineer; Notice how that expression is always used with the jobs that society tends to value more highly …. You don’t hear people talking about a calling to clean offices or to be sanitation engineers …. What about someone who has worked in four different career fields … does God keep changing their calling? Are they sinful in not having ever discovered their one and only genuine calling? Have they missed the vocational boat??

– I have a divine calling that is consistent with the general spiritual blessings provided to all members of the body of Christ;

– and I have a divine calling that is consistent with the specific giftedness that dictates my role in furthering the Great Commission and the growth of the kingdom of God.

This calling relates to my function …. Not primarily to whether I should be paid full-time or not.

Sometimes it might make sense for me to sell Caterpillar tractors. Sometimes it might make sense for me to be doing something else. But my calling from God remains the same. The general part of that calling comes down in verse 12.

1 Cor. 9 — key passage; explanation of laying aside his right to financial support in the ministry

2 Cor. 11:7ff – willing to take remuneration from established churches; but not when it would open him to criticism and hurt the preaching of the gospel

B. Motivation: Unselfishness – Self Sufficiency – not burdening others

“so as not to be a burden to any of you”

laboring with their hands for their own support so as not to be a burden and to provide a good example; desire to be a blessing instead of a burden

Contrast with the motivation from the false teachers – wanted the financial support; wanted the life of comfort and freedom from physical cares; wanted to be supported by the hard work of others

Problem: thinking we deserve better and more support and perks and benefits —

Different Circumstances dictated different approaches for the Apostle Paul

– nothing wrong with receiving financial support from the Philippians

– in fact the rule rather than the exception would seem to be that those elders who labor especially hard and skillfully and effectively in preaching and teaching should be supported, along with itinerant missionaries and evangelists involved in church planting

– but Paul found advantages at times to laying aside his right to support and offering the gospel ministry without charge as he did here to the Thessalonians

Often we are perpetuating the wrong image: that hard physical work and the gospel ministry are mutually exclusive

C. Main Mission: never lose sight of the number one objective = Great Commission

“we proclaimed to you the gospel of God”

If your work situation detracts from accomplishing the main task, you need to see how you can make the necessary adjustments

Proclaiming the gospel is hard work as well – can be exhausting; requires much work in prayer; requires time consuming personal follow-up and interaction; patient answering of questions; engaging in the whole process of discipleship