3 Odd Jobs of the Tentmaker
Most of us wear more than 1 hat, and have a side job, whether paid for it or not. Some people have a career, but have a heart for other things. We cannot do it all. The Apostle Paul had the skills and knowledge to be more than a tentmaker, and his other interests helped make him the man of God that he was.
Inside the heart of Paul we have found…
v. 18-19 Temptations = persecution
Paul was constantly persecuted by the Jews, but he never backed up or backed down. Paul wanted to do God’s will, which meant reaching out to those in regions beyond. He also knew God wanted him to go to Jerusalem…but he also knew he would be in danger once there. God had already warned Paul he was in for some bad things at Jerusalem.
v. 22-23 Imagine I asked you to make a visit on ministry night, and I explain a couple of things to be aware of:
“When you pull into the driveway they will probably throw rocks at your car, but get out of it quickly and they will stop throwing at the car…but then they’ll likely throw rocks at you. Go ahead and approach them. They will start beating on you with their fists or other objects. Once you fall to the ground they will kick you, and tie you up, maybe handcuff you, and then haul you off to jail, claiming you have committed crimes against them. Ready? Let’s go!”
How many of you think that you’d feel “led” to make a different visit?
This is precisely what Paul is headed for, and he knows it…he’s headed into the mouth of the lion. He knows about the danger, has a promise he’ll be hurt, but he has courage and wants to do the will of God.
Here’s part of God’s warning to Paul about what lay ahead:
21:10-11 A prophet of God named Agabus illustrates what will happen using Paul’s girdle [not the same as today, of course…in Bible days it was a belt. When a man would go a great distance he would tie up the sides of his robe around his waist w/ this girdle]. Given these circumstances, a lesser man would not have gone thru with it. So what happened?
v. 12-14 Paul did what he felt he had to do, knowing he was walking into the face of danger. That is great courage, and we need that in this world today. So let’s take a further look inside the heart of Paul and see how he had this courage.
Paul paints us 3 pictures in chapter 20. He gives us 3 illustrations. He reveals 3 passions of his and we realize he wasn’t just a tentmaker, not just a preacher, but had 3 other occupations he always wanted to do.
“What do you wanna be when you grow up, Paul?”
1. Paul, the accountant
v. 24 “neither count I my life dear unto myself”
This is an accounting term. It means to look at the income and expenses, the assets and the liabilities. To examine the ledger like a profit and loss statement, and count the cost.
Paul says, I put my life on one side of the scale, and doing God’s work on the other side of the scale, and God’s work is more important. He says, if I only live for myself, I’m in the red!
Ill.—back in the ‘50s five men decided they would take the gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecuador, South America. One of them was Jim Elliot, whose wife Elisabeth became a well known women’s speaker. Her husband, Jim, and 4 other missionaries believed God wanted them to reach this remote Auca tribe, known as the meanest savages on earth. They were a brutal, murderous tribe. The men flew over their village, and found a beach that ran alongside a river where they lived. They decided to fly low, dropping gifts and food to the Indians. This they did for several days, and the villagers would run out and retrieve the things dropped and disappear back into the jungle. Then they decided to land on that beach and make contact. The people came out of the jungle slowly to see these white men, and at first it looked like they had made friends, but then men jumped out w/ spears and turned on these 5 missionaries, and slaughtered them…massacred them! And there are actual aerial photos of those 5 missionaries’ butchered bodies lying on that beach.
Steve Saint befriended the man who killed his father, and toured the US with him, ministering in churches!
When Jim Elliot was preparing to go, people called him a fool. They said, God has given you a brain, so use it! He replied, “no man is a fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” There may be times where serving God will call on us to give up something…but it’s something we can’t keep anyway. One second after death, nothing we’ve accumulated will matter anyway!
By the way, those missionaries’ wives later went back and won that tribe to the Lord, and Elizabeth Elliot actually got to know the man who murdered her husband.
And the Apostle Paul knew this and as an accountant he added it all up and decided, I’d rather die in the will of God than live outside of His will! As an accountant he realized, it pays to serve God. Have you discovered that fact too?
This Paul was welcomed to heaven by the applause of many he killed before he was saved!
2. Paul, the runner
v. 24 “finish my course” That’s the language of a runner.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
I Cor. 9:24
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
If we’re gonna live for God, we might as well put our heart into it and go all the way, go for the gold!
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Quitting is not optional, retiring is not one of my choices, I want to finish well.
II Tim. 4:7
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Now, the Christian life is not a sprint. It’s not a 100 yard dash…it’s more of a marathon. Here’s the good news: I’m not running against you, and you’re not running against me. We’re not competing with Paul, watching him leave us in the dust…all we have to do is finish the course, run the race…so, until we hit the tape, we must run the race!
So, how ya runnin’? Have you slowed down in your service to God? You used to be more faithful, you used to teach a class, or serve in children’s ministries, or go on visitation…how ya runnin’? Some used to tithe, but you aren’t in the race anymore…used to pray with your family, but somehow you’ve gotten sidelined…you used to be excited to read the Bible, but you’re not in the race anymore.
What’s the secret to finishing well? My father in law has made it his goal to finish well…what’s the secret? Some right here in this room are in the process of finishing well…what’s their secret?
We just put up Heb. 12:1…let’s see it again.
Now look at v. 2:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We must keep our eyes on the goal!
If you look off to the sidelines and the crowd, you’ll trip and fall…you’ll be distracted and get off course! People will disappoint you.
If you’re always looking back over your shoulder at past sins you’ll never go forward. If you constantly compare where you’re at w/ where the other runners are you’ll lose ground in the race!
Paul said, I’ve gotta go to Jerusalem, because it pays to serve God, and I want to finish the race!
3. Paul, the steward
v. 24 “the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus”
Paul never saw his ministry as belonging to himself, but as God’s.
Ill.--My kids calling this “my church” … “daddy’s church”, and I’m always quick to say, that’s God’s church, and we get to go there!
As stewards, we have no right to decide what we’re gonna do and when we’re gonna do it…because everything we have belongs to God! Every minute of every day is a gift from God, and we have no right to just decide how WE’RE gonna spend it…we’ve got to do God’s will. Every dollar we have belongs to God. Even our children belong to God. Our talents are not our own, they’re God’s! And someday we’ll answer to God as stewards.
Ill.--when the sergeant busts into the barracks early in the morning, you don’t reply, “Sorry Sarge, but I believe I need to sleep in today.”
1 Cor. 6:19-20
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Where did Paul get his faithfulness, his humility, his compassion, and this great courage?
He viewed himself as an accountant, and decided that in the end, it pays to serve God.
He was a runner, and said, I’m gonna finish my course.
He submitted himself as a steward who had no right to just make his own decisions.
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