Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 33-34
The watchman is his brother’s keeper. So says the Lord in Ezekiel 33:1-9. His job is to sound the alarm whenever there is danger. Those who heed the warning will save themselves, while those who do not will die in their iniquity. In both cases, the watchman is faithful. However, if the watchman does not warn his people, they will die in their iniquity, but he is held accountable for his failure to sound the alarm. As Ezekiel was God’s watchman, so also are God’s preachers. They are God’s warning system. Some derisively refer to watchful preachers as “watchdogs” rather than watchmen. There is a difference between the two. A watchdog barks at everything, while the watchman is discerning, only awakening the people when danger is truly present. Admittedly, some preachers sound the alarm at inappropriate times. They do not realize their warnings eventually go unheard, even when they are justifiable. As a preacher, I try to exercise discernment in my warnings, lest my incessant “barking” also fail to arouse the senses of those truly in danger.
New Testament reading: Acts 20-21
While most are familiar with Jesus’ words in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” many miss the context wherein they are made. In verse 24, Paul spoke of how he had labored to make his own way while he preached in Ephesus, saying, “These hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.” Paul declared that his labors to provide for himself and those with him were actually a gift to the Ephesians. This was not the only time Paul “paid his own way.” In Acts 18:1-4 we find Paul making tents alongside Aquila and Priscilla. This is where the term “tent-making” preacher originates. It means a preacher who works to provide for himself so as not to be a burden on the brethren. There are many advantages to such an arrangement. First, the preacher’s influence is wider when he is among the people daily. Paul used this relationship to convert Aquila and Priscilla. Note how they are called Jews in Acts 18:2, not brethren or disciples. Second, the preacher is not beholden to anyone in such a way so as to affect his preaching. He will not be tempted to change his message or avoid sensitive subjects for the sake of keeping his job.