The Needs of the Workers
Before we look at the needs of the workers, let us mention first this matter of offerings. A Christian’s offering is not just for the sake of supporting workers as individual believers but is for the reason of supplying the needs of those who work for the Lord. In other words, it is not because a certain person is a worker that he is therefore being supported. He is supported because he serves the Lord. He as an individual person is one thing, and he who is in the work is another. So long as he works for the Lord, he deserves to be supported. The issue lies not in whether or not he is financially well, but rather whether he is working for the Lord. He who works for the Lord is worthy to be supported. It is similar to the matter of paying a taxi driver, wherein we would never ask whether he is poor or rich. His poverty or abundance has nothing to do with it. It is simply that for his labor he must quite naturally receive his wages. Nobody can say that because a certain worker has money he therefore need not be supported. Not so. Once there was someone who was thinking of giving an offering to brother Bright, a co-worker of Dr. Scofield; but then he heard a person beside him say that the Lord could supply brother Bright’s need. With the result that he withdrew his offering and left brother Bright in want. Let us see that the offering of a believer is not decided on the basis of the poverty of the worker. If support is given on the basis of poverty, such support is not an offering but is an expression of alms giving.
To present an offering is the least a person who has received grace must do. Without this, he is useless before God. His having received grace ought to produce the result of offering up all he has to the Lord. It is quite irregular for the one who has received grace to withhold offering. This is because as one’s heart is touched by God that one’s purse will decidedly be offered up. How can a person’s heart be touched by God and yet his possessions not be touched? Offering is the clear evidence that our all has been touched by God, and thus there will be love flowing out from us. A person who fails to offer has no outflow of love.
In this world today there are only two gods: the one is Mammon (riches, wealth, possessions, etc.), and the other is the true God. If we do not love God, we must love Mammon. But when we love God, our heart is expanded and we just give. We have a believer in our midst who for twenty years met in a certain church without ever greeting anybody. But then he commenced giving an offering, and immediately his entire being was transformed. Formerly I dared not speak or report on the matter of offerings, but now I have turned myself around on this issue because I realize that this matter of offering up of our substance is a way to receive more grace. The more a person offers up, the more fully he receives of God’s grace. And what I have said here today to you workers I say to all local churches.
Now let us see how offerings ought to be managed locally. Out of the offerings received by the assembly, a portion should be taken to support workers—both those locally and those abroad. This is for the purpose of expressing fellowship. In Philippians 4 we read how Paul commended the grace the Philippians believers had exhibited in their conduct. For they had continuously had fellowship with the apostle in their financial gift-giving. The situation of the Corinthian believers, though, was just the opposite. Because a problem existed between them and Paul in fellowship, Paul would rather do what he felt compelled to write in 2 Corinthians 11.8 ("I robbed other churches, taking wages of them") rather than be a burden to the Corinthian believers. And why? Because fellowship between them was a problem. But where there is fellowship—as in the case of Paul with the Philippians—there is offering.
Thank God, the brethren in some localities have received grace in this matter. You workers abroad, please do not misconstrue that the assembly in one of these localities is so rich that it always sends out gifts. The reason why it is able to send out gifts is because the workers in that particular locality receive less local support. This constitutes the grace of the assembly.
Offerings can be given by contacting the Apostle for your region of churches or the Elder of your locality, and they can forward the gift onto the worker you wish to give the gift to.
The Way a Worker Manages Finance
(1) A worker should not let people know that he is poor. For a worker lives by faith, not by philanthropy. It is a shameful thing to let people know about his poverty in order to receive supply. A worker must possess a proper attitude in receiving supplies. He represents God in receiving offerings from a brother. He stands on God’s side, and therefore he must not give people a deplorable feeling. When Paul mentioned this matter of finance, the impression he gave was honorable and decent. Such is the right attitude each and every worker must have.
(2) Among the workers themselves, whenever there is a surplus in supply, it needs to be distributed. Do not by this action be afraid of being misunderstood as rich and wealthy. Then, too, for your personal family livelihood, some short-term savings is a principle agreeable to the word of God. The Book of Proverbs contains such teaching and exhorts us to do so.
(3) The spending of money should be planned. Many tend to buy unnecessary things when they have excess funds. Such behavior will hinder God’s giving. The use of money should be planned according to a budget. The things to be purchased need to be well considered before God. Do not buy carelessly, and do not spend wastefully.
(4) A worker must not fall into debt. A servant of God would rather die than ask for money. If he does not have the faith for his livelihood, then he should seek some other "employment" by which to support himself. If he has faith in God to sustain his living, he will not stretch forth his hand towards man.
The Principle of Manna
Today Gods wants us to live according to the manna principle, which is this: "he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack" (Ex. 16.18). This is not just the record of the Old Testament. The New Testament, too, teaches this principle (2 Cor. 8.15). Much or little is equally wrong. If in an assembly some brothers have no means to maintain their living, either the church there or some individuals should help them. The local church cannot look upon the plight of unemployed brethren without its helping them the best way it can. This does not, of course, include those who refuse to work. People who are unwilling to work should not be helped; only those who are willing to work ought to be assisted.
Furthermore, to those brothers who work but earn less than is sufficient for their livelihood, the local church must also render help. In the early Church, this principle was observed by the apostles.
As regards the order of rendering help and assistance, the local assembly must first take care of the brothers and sisters within the local church, and then help the poor outside. If a believer has near relatives who need help, he should help them first before he helps other people.
Do not offer aid casually without careful consideration. A person who is naturally "hand loose" in his giving is not blessed because he gives more. For he who would be "hand loose" is also carelessly loose in other things of God. We need to learn to be responsible offerers and not "hand loosers."
A believer’s offering of assistance does not end with his giving out funds. He must in addition live a proper life before God so that his giving will be blessed. Thank God, not all are Lazarus, and not all are the rich man. What God wants is neither a Lazarus nor a rich man, but the offerings of those who live worthily before Him. The flesh commits either one of two sins before the Lord—either exercising "severity to the body" as Paul spoke of in Colossians 2.23, or else exercising overindulgence to the body. What God ordains is neither severity nor indulgence to the body but the living of a godly life before Him. Any surplus funds should be freely distributed.