Luke 8:1-3 – After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (NIV)
Every year, the church that I serve undergoes a six-week stewardship campaign. Like most churches, we are presently going through some lean times. A major part of the problem is that our congregation is now competing with hundreds of other good causes in our community. Convincing church members to focus upon their giving to the church is not as easy as it once was, and taking their pledges for granted is a recipe for financial hardship. People nowadays question the need to support the church and want to see their money being used effectively.
We tend to forget, however, that there were on-going costs involved with Christ's ministry right from the very beginning. After all, when He travelled around the Galilean region with an entourage of at least a dozen others, someone had to foot the bill for their lodging, food, and clothing. A three-year itinerant ministry would cost a lot in sandals and sandwiches, even if one could every now and then feed a multitude of five thousand people.
From Luke's Gospel, we get an idea of those who supported Christ financially: they were women who had been healed miraculously. They were grateful for Christ's compassion and His holiness which completely restored them to their personal domestic lives. Whatever they had suffered from, Jesus cured them. Whatever pain, isolation, depression, or sickness they had had in the past, Christ healed them.
Their gratitude was expressed in financial terms. Whatever they had to give from their own means, they gave cheerfully and willingly to support Jesus. His ministry meant everything to them, so they wanted to help Him financially. Whenever we think about the effective support that was given to Christ's work, we tend to think of it in terms of the number of disciples; however, without the quantity of money that was given for His ministry, even Jesus would not have been able to complete His work across the Galilean region.
Perhaps the main lesson that we all can learn from this passage is one of cheerful stewardship. After all, Christ still depends upon how gratefully we give to the work of His church, in order to continue His ministry in our world today.
Questions for personal reflection: Why do I give money to the church? How do my contributions help to fulfill Christ's ministry in my community and around the world?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, without financial support, Your church, in local communities and throughout the world, could never function or flourish, or even fulfill the Great Commission. Your ministry on earth still needs our resources and money to effectively accomplish Your work around the globe. Help us to reflect upon what and how we give of our means to You. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Work For The Night Is Coming" (Lyrics)