Sacrificing

When I tell people that I resigned a Postmaster position to take up full-time preaching, a common response is: “That must have been a sacrifice.” I must admit that the insurance and retirement packages offered by many churches to their preachers far from rival what the USPS offers, the salary and (monetary) benefits are not quite on a par, and the security, well, you do have to be more mobile, or at least flexible. However, when I think of sacrifice, I don’t usually equate my decision with “sacrifice.” When I think of sacrifice, I think of mission work.

Having never worked in a mission field (unless Philadelphia, PA, counts), I am only familiar with the day to day grind of a local ministry. I fall out around 6:00 AM and enjoy coffee with my wife, drive a few blocks to a climate controlled office and begin a workday that is always new, interesting and different. The job consists of praying, studying God’s word, developing lessons, visiting and Bible studies. The worst persecution I receive usually centers around my latest comment to a local denominational preacher or that one member (and every church has one) that never likes what I preach, or how I preach, or more likely, that I preach. Tough job, huh.

Then there are the missionaries, and their job is different. The hardships that missionaries encounter is, however, evidence of several things. [1] The drive to evangelize will put you in persecution’s path since “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12); if we are godly, we will be involved in evangelism. [2] The power of the Gospel is being spread successfully enough throughout foreign fields to have affected even those in powerful, decision-making positions. Hearkens back to the effect Paul had on many while enduring the hardships of custody, “especially those who (were) of Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22). God’s word does not regard position. And [3] you and I can have an impact on mission work. Because we are not able to be there ourselves does not mean we not able to be a part of the successes of mission work. Paul said, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (2 Corinthians 2:11). The Corinth missionary effort was financed by faithful brethren interested in saving souls.

Question: What sacrifices are you making toward the spread of God’s word? The Macedonian churches gave from “their deep poverty” and took upon themselves “the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:2, 4). Their sacrifice was, in part, responsible for the establishment of the church in Corinth. Have your sacrifices planted a church lately?

Jeff Sweeten