The Mustard Seed
Jesus called the Twelve to Him. Then He sent them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits. Here were His orders. "Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don't, shake the dust off your feet when you leave. That will be a witness against the people living there." They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. (Mark 6:7-12 NIRV)
There is something in this story that bothers me. It's the part where Jesus tells His Disciples, "Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes." That seems like bad planning. I have gone on many trips in my life. Never have I gone without packing enough clean clothes for the time I am gone. Never have I hit the road with enough money either in cash or credit to get me to my destination and home again, and enough to pay for all my meals. We can safely assume that the Disciples received all that they needed during their travels, and that they returned without any new debt. But never have I sensed that Jesus has asked me to do as He commanded His 12 Disciples that day.
So what lesson can we learn from this strange part of the story? Is there an application for us today? Yes. It is a lesson that appears often in the Bible: Disciples of Jesus "travel light." While we are on our earthly pilgrimage, we must not become weighed down with this world's fleeting treasures.
You gain a lot when you live a godly life. But you must be happy with what you have. We didn’t bring anything into the world. We can't take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we will be happy with that. People who want to get rich are tempted. They fall into a trap... Love for money causes all kinds of evil. Some people want to get rich. They have wandered away from the faith. They have wounded themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIRV)
Do not love the world or anything in it. If you love the world, love for the Father is not in you. Here is what people who belong to this world do. They try to satisfy what their sinful natures want to do. They desire what their sinful eyes look at. They brag about what they have and what they do. All of this comes from the world. It doesn’t come from the Father. The world and its evil desires are passing away. But those who do what God wants them to do live forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
Disciples of Christ trust Him for their daily needs. I can attest from personal experience: God is faithful. He cares for His own. He provides for our need, not for our greed. And He expects us to manage His provision righteously.
A famous Bible smuggler named "Brother Andrew" had an experience very similar to that of the Twelve Disciples when Jesus sent them out without any extra cash. Brother Andrew received his early training in a Bible school that sent its students out on month-long evangelistic trips with only $30 (at today's currency value), which they were suppose to pay back when they returned. Also, they were not allowed to ask for money, take a collection, or mention their financial needs to others. How did things work out?
Brother Andrew wrote:
[Whether we received] money or produce [food], we stuck fast to two rules: we never mentioned a need aloud, and we gave away a tithe [10%] of whatever came to us as soon as we got it -- within twenty-four hours if possible. Another team that set out from school that same time we did, was not so strict about tithing. They set aside their ten percent all right, but they didn't give it away immediately, 'in case we run into an emergency.' Of course they had emergencies! So did we, every day. But they ended their month owing money to hotels, lecture halls, and markets all over Scotland, while we came back to school almost ten pounds ahead [approximately $300 at today's currency value]. Fast as we could give money away, God was always swifter, and we ended with money to send to [mission] work overseas. (God's Smuggler, chapter 6)
When we do God's business in God's way, He is faithful.
~~ Pastor Ron
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Pastor Ron Friedrich