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The Disciples of Jesus #2

15/09/2018

The Ethics of Evangelism

Text. Matthew 10:8b-15

Jesus has called his disciples, and now they get some really practical good advice for ministry, part of their ‘Seminary Evangelism Module’ – and its not just good advice for them, but for us also as we seek to represent the Saviour in this godless world.

1. Wisdom in Accounting.
If there’s anything that causes scandal in the church it’s MONEY.

  • Ministry is a ‘Not for Profit’ exercise. Freely you have received, freely give One doesn’t become a minister to earn a living, despite the fact that there are some denominations that pay their ministers exceedingly well – our salvation was a free gift, and while we are warned here that a labourer is worthy of his hire, we are never to charge people to hear the gospel, never to turn ministry into a ‘good living for a living.’
  • Evangelism doesn’t employ bribery. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts,. Just as money and finance is not an any incentive for the one who would serve the Lord, so, neither is money, wealth, prosperity etc to be used as a bribe for prople to ‘become a Christian.’ So you won’t need to bring your money! Bribing sinners with material things doesn’t cure souls or build the church spiritually. Evangelism is addressing the soul, not the wallet.
  • Evangelists are not to have an outward appearance of prosperity. 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs. It’s not a good witness for the evangelist to appear to be outwardly ostentatious. They weren’t to have the trappings of wealth, 2 coats, etc. No private jet, no limo, no mansion, … And yet,
  • Workers are not to starve. for a worker is worthy of his food. Despite all of that, there is a balance to be struck. While the person who goes out in the name of the Lord is not to be wealthy, not to be greedy, not to have his heart set on worldly gain, – he is not to be hungry! The last thing a Christian worker needs is to be worried about how he’s going to pay for the next meal. There is a fine balance!
    Now, not only are we to be wise in our attitude to money, but we also need:-

2. Wisdom in Association.
There’s a second matter that scandalises the church and hinders evangelism. It’s when the church, the representatives of Jesus become like the world. So Jesus gives his disciples very specific instructions…

  • Be careful with your accommodation. “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, Make enquiries about where you are lodging. Don’t lodge in a house of ill repute. Sometimes in ancient days, hotels were little more than brothels. What impression would it make on a sinner to see a preacher walking out of a brothel? What a hinderance to the word of God that would be. Don’t give the ungodly the opportunity to point the finger!
  • Beware of a desire for personal promotion. stay there till you go out. What if you get yourself settled in somewhere, and you realise that there’s a more comfortable, or more lucrative place just down the road a bit. Do you leave the place where you have lodged and go elsewhere, just for personal comfort?
  • Be a blessing to those you meet. And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it.. This was an eastern custom. If a Jewish man met a stranger along the road, he would offer him a greeting, – – there’s no Hebrew word that corresponds with ‘hello’ so the usual greeting would be shalom, , “shalom aleichem,” – peace be upon you. It’s a good principle to be a blessing to everyone we meet – and that’s a challenge but it will certainly help our efforts at witnessing if we bless those we meet. Yet this command to be a blessing is fraught with danger, for in blessing others…
  • Be careful not to endorse those live a sinful lifestyle. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. What if after having greeted someone, that Jewish man discovered that the stranger was a gentile, or an unworthy person? A Jew would literally go back to the person, and tell him that they are removing their blessing from him! ‘You don’t have my blessing!” They were careful that they didn’t endorse a sinful life. Now, while we remember that we are all sinners, we must be careful that in our desire to be a blessing to others that we don’t end up overlooking or worse, appear to be approving of their sin.
    All of these wise commands are meant to preserve our testimony so that we are a good example to others, so that we don’t cause others to stumble, or give excuse for the world to scoff. c/f 1 Cor 8:9-11.

3. Wisdom in Abandonment.
This last area of ethics is perhaps the most difficult of all…  14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

  • Know when to stop preaching. They were sent out to preach, but a time comes when we are to simply walk away, and that time is when the people are simply unteachable, when they have stopped listening to the preached message. It was time to stop preaching and move on!
  • Watch your own sanctification. This business of ‘wiping the dust off your feet’ is often viewed as being a rebuke against those who spurn the gospel and in a sense I suppose it is. But there’s another, more profound meaning. It’s about being careful with personal defilement. Mixing with the world defiles us to some extent. When a Jew travelled abroad and his journey took him through Gentile lands, and then he returned to Israel he would ceremonially wipe the dust of the ungodly lands off his feet, so that symbolically he was declaring that all the defilement his ears had heard and his eyes had seen would be removed from him. It was a symbolic act indicating a removal of any ungodly influence. Jesus tells his disciples to do this too.
  • Be aware of the awfulness of spurning the Gospel. This is why this decision to stop is such a heavy burden, and why it can only be taken with great reluctance, and much prayer. The people who have heard the Gospel and rejected it will fare much worse on judgement day than the people of Sodom and Gommorrah, who had no gospel witness, who had never heard. When we abandon a city, or a church or a person or group of people who are not listening, we must be aware of the terrible consequences of their actions.

So, Jesus has commissioned his disciples and is sending them out into the mission field, and he gives them the parameters of their ethical conduct. In our next study, we’ll see the dangers that lie ahead as they pursue their calling.

© BobMcEvoy September 2018

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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