…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Here’s an example of how Paul’s work in tentmaking brought propagating fruit as he shared the gospel and his life through the work of his hands.
Acts 18:2,-4, 24-28 (NKJV)
After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2And Paul found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Paul met Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth through his work in tentmaking.
Paul stayed and worked alongside them.
In order to support his ministry, Paul’s for-profit tentmaking venture had to be financially viable and sustainable with happy customers,
… not a pipe dream.
A good tent involves fine stitching, precision cutting, durable/reliable manufacturing, quality materials, and tough rain-proofing.
The business of tentmaking that Paul, Aquila and Priscilla worked in, encompasses … sales/marketing, manufacturing, quality control, customer service, repairs, product development, market segmentation, supply chain, cash-flow, etc … (hard work sewing the tough material on tents).
Their customers relied on their tents to protect them in cold winters, strong winds, heavy rains, scorching sun.
Challenging deadlines … tough, fussy customers … chasing payments … etc
Multiple interactions and opportunities for Paul to shine the light in the marketplace … new contacts, new customers …. new friends … with a smile.
Paul became an active part of the community he served, through serving them with his trade and skills.
In Paul’s day, there were seldom contracts … a man’s word was his bond.
Through quality execution and timely delivery, loyal customers are won, … and sometimes, going the extra mile with a smile.
Matthew 7:12, 5:37 (NASB)
12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’;
anything beyond these is of evil.
Going the extra mile with a smile
for a friend, a colleague, a business partner or a customer,
is a great ice-breaker.
Back in Paul’s day, things were hand-made, and usually the craftsman will proudly sign or initial his work (like a trusted brand).
The first thing co-workers observe is the quality/integrity of our work,
… our speech … our lives,
our character, integrity in team situations, conflicts, stress/pressure
… before they are ready
to hear our message
of our faithful Lord.
Like our work in the office,
or field of endeavor
or the products we make or represent (eg tents) ,
we earn the right to be heard.
‘A good, high quality tent speaks for itself.’
Over time, through faithfulness and consistency,
credibility and respect is earned.
In due season, un-reliable fakes or charlatans or wannabes soon leak & fall apart.
A good tent lasts a long time, tested through many storms and cold nights,
… proudly speaks of its diligent maker, … signed on the product.
The maker’s reputation virally spreads through testimonials and reviews.
Whether a tent or work/task,
… let’s complete it well with pride in our handiwork,
diligently, faithfully, consistently, … joyfully.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats,
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them,
you did it to Me.’
serving/blessing others = serving Jesus,
through our skills, talents, gifts, ministry.
On a side note, Jesus taught on ‘customer service‘,
with even someone asking him ‘who is my neighbor?‘ (customer)
Who is our customer/neighbor we are serving today?
Hence, … in addition to Paul’s preaching, pastoral, teaching ministry workload,
… Paul’s tents had to be benchmarked as just as good as (or even better than) what’s available in the Corinth marketplace, and competitively priced, in order for him to make a living out of his work. Through his good quality tents, word-of-mouth recommendations will bring new customers or repeat business. No cutting corners.
Without satisfied customers … there’s no business.
So how successful was Paul’s tentmaking?
You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. Acts 20:34 (NASB)
God prospered Paul’s tentmaking, his tents were well-made and well received by the marketplace, providing a surplus to support others in his team as well.
Paul chose to self-support his ministry so that,
” … in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge“
1 Corinthains 9:18 (NIV)
Oh, … by the way, Barnabas who co-labored with Paul on their mission journeys,
also worked to support his ministry.
Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? ..
1 Corinthains 9:6 (NLT)
On a side note, … perhaps from his tentmaking work experience,
Paul inspired Timothy to study of God’s word like a diligent workman who teaches with accuracy and skill,
Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP)
Back to the story of Paul’s stay in Corinth,
8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half,
teaching them the word of God.
18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him.
and Paul discipled many, including Priscilla and Aquila;
who later traveled with him to Syria.
24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Aquila and Priscilla, both layman, discipled Apollos a scholar of scripture.
27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
Apollos went to Achaia to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and discipled the believers there.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy,
2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also
Paul wrote of his teaching to Timothy (you),
… and requested Timothy to teach to faithful men (without Paul)
… who will teach others (without Timothy and Paul).
i.e. 4-generation discipling propagation.
Similar to how Timothy’s faith was nurtured,
For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you,
which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois
and your mother Eunice,
and I am sure that it is in you as well.
(2 Timothy 1:5 NASB)
In this story in Acts 18,
Paul —> Aquila & Priscilla —> Apollos —> believers in Achaia (many),
effective discipling … replication, propagation and viral multiplication.
Much like how a master tentmaker would teach his apprentice,
who will teach others, who in turn share the craft, skill, ‘tricks’ & knowledge to still others in the trade.
Similar to an apprenticeship, … Paul’s discipling was both teaching and following his life example.
Philippians 3:17 (NIV)
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
Oh .. by the way,
by God’s providence or God-incidence …
Through the decree of the government, emperor Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome,
… that’s how Priscilla and Aquila ended up in Corinth … and somehow met Paul who came from Athens.
Similarly … Apollos from Alexandria (down south) … somehow ended up in Ephesus … and met Priscilla & Aquila on their trip with Paul.
From Athens and Rome —> to Corinth —> and to Ephesus,
from Alexandria —> to Ephesus,
Total strangers, whose paths somehow crossed each others’.
(this happened before air travel and airports, and travelling time took days)
Unplanned … unscripted … God’s hand, unfolding God’s plan.
God is amazing! 🙂
In Paul’s letter to the believers in Corinth,
1 Corinthains 16:19 (NKJV)
19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Besides their tentmaking work, Aquila and Priscilla faithfully shepherded a discpling church in their home in the city where they live and work as tentmakers.
Paul’s commendation of Priscilla and Aquila’s ministry,
in his letter to Rome,
Romans 16:3-5 (NKJV)
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Amazing! All the churches of the Gentiles spread across the Roman empire were grateful for the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila.
They courageously risked their own necks for Paul. A true brother and sister in the Lord.
Priscilla & Aquila also clearly demonstrates the ministry impact of a family serving the Lord wholeheartedly in one heart and one mind.
It all started through a simple chance contact at work in the marketplace, at a home,
… to discipling … to missions. … to church planting …
by His Spirit.
From colleague … to friend … to fellow believer
… to brother/sister … to ministry partner
From co-workers … in marketplace business,
to the Father’s business,
both endeavors at the same time :-).
Interestingly, Jesus used a marketplace setting to share the parable of the manager who worked for a rich man, to explain kingdom of God principles & attitudes. His summary of the parable,
10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much;
and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.
11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth,
who will entrust the true riches to you?
12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s,
who will give you that which is your own?”
Luke 16:10-12 (NASB)
It begins with faithfulness and integrity in our everyday work, in the marketplace.
A faithful man will abound with blessings, …
Proverbs 28:20 (NASB)
A man’s work … silently speaks of his word … & his faithful Lord,
… Jesus works here.
Daniel was a great statesman serving foreign heathen kings,
and a prophet to kings and kingdoms in his time and the future.
The quality of Daniel’s work and faith was so tangibly visible,
Daniel 6:3,4, 16 25-27(NKJV)
3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. 4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.
A God inspired excellent spirit (attitude) was clearly evident in whatever Daniel did. By his merit & excellence, the King wanted to promote Daniel.
Similarly, the well-thought out clarity, and attention to detail in Paul’s epistles, perhaps gives us a glimpse of the quality of his tents.
Daniel was faithful in all his day-to-day dealings/challenges at work.
Even his boss, the king had faith in Daniel’s faithful God.
16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel,
“Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.”
Finally, when the king saw Daniel’s living God delivered him,
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly!
26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people
must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
Priscilla and Aquila saw Paul’s Jesus at work in and through his life and work.
King Darius saw Daniel’s Lord God at work in and through his life and work.
For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
A living faith in a living God, Jesus Christ, who saves,
… He has risen …
Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
Colossians 4:3-6 (NIV)
3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message,
so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders;
make the most of every opportunity.
6 Let your conversation be always full of grace,seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.
There are no chance encounters … make the most of every opportunity,
in work, deed & word … with joy.
“Carpe diem. Sieze the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary”
–John Keating, Dead Poets Society
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
September 1, 2015
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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