To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it.
1 Corinthians 4:11-12
In this short message, I want to share how:
1. The Apostle Paul Suffered Homelessness for the Gospel
2. Paul Worked Hard With His Own Hands
3. When Paul Was Persecuted, He Endured It
4. The Poor Should Be Like Paul
The Apostle Paul Suffered Homelessness for the Gospel
1.1. The Apostle Paul, the main character in the Book of Acts, was the major leader of the early Christians. At one point in his life he was anti-Christian and hated Jesus, not knowing what he was doing. Then one day, the Holy Spirit knocked him off his horse, and he saw Jesus in a vision. Jesus told him to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone. That Christ had died on the cross for the sins of all men, and that because He will judge all men on Judgment Day for how they live their lives, he was to tell everyone everywhere to repent of their wicked ways, and live “in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of their lives” (Luke 1:75, NKJV). But if they did not repent of their wicked ways, then eternal judgment and Hell waits for them after death. This was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was the message that the apostle Paul travelled all over the world preaching to whoever would listen. And, as can be assumed, Paul ran into troubles with many people when he preached this message. Many people did not like to hear him preaching against their sins, rebuking them for their idol worship, sex outside of marriage, their stealing, pride, lying, coveting, atheism, homosexuality, and false religions. In response to these preachings of righteousness, people persecuted Paul, and made things as hard as possible for him. They tried to kill him, people made pacts and plots against him, they falsely accused him in court so he would go to jail, they threw him out of their cities, and many other things. They stole from him for sure, which might explain why in this Bible verse, he said “we are brutally treated, we are homeless”—perhaps he had no money to pay for a hotel, in this situation.
Paul Worked Hard With His Own Hands
1.2. Although Paul went through times, when he had no home, he still tried to find work, and he said, he “worked hard with his own hands.” He did this so that he would not be a burden to the people he was preaching the Gospel to. How many preachers today should be doing this! Not a burden to their people! See, Paul found work as a tent maker (Acts 18:3), he built up years of experience in this particular field of work. So, that wherever he went, he was able to buy food, clothing, and yes, even sometimes shelter for himself. When we come to the end of the Book of Acts, it says that he rented out a house for a number of years, preaching to the Christians (Acts 28:30-31). “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him” (Acts 28:30). You see how God blessed this man Paul? He was faithful to preach the Gospel, and faithful to work hard with his own hands, and God took care of him, even to the point of giving him his own house! This was the same man who said in my opening text: “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless”—ah, but that wasn’t the end! For a man of righteous ethics and morals like this, Christians came to vouch for his character, and he made good connections along the way, into a good habitation. However, years down the road he got his head cut off for preaching the Gospel—but we don’t need to get into that!!! The point is, for the time he needed to live—it was God who sustained him. God sustained Paul, the servant of God.
When Paul Was Persecuted, He Endured It
1.3. The social implications of being in rags, and homeless, are often also being “brutally treated” as the text says. As if being in rags, and being homeless, and being unemployed weren’t bad enough! To make things worse, you got JERKS to deal with! Disrespectful Middle Class and Upper Class people who live in the lap of luxury, who laugh at you for your plight, and don’t understand one little bit of pain and suffering along your lines. In this world, they may have the upper hand. But, let it be known, that if they don’t repent their wicked ways, they will PAY THE PIPER in the other world. Abraham said to the rich man in Hell: “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented” (Luke 16:25). Paul, while he was in rags, and homeless, and being brutally treated, even by rich and disrespectful RELIGIOUS PEOPLE!—he bore these things in memory. That those rich and comfortable folks who demean and insult the poor of this world, will have HELL TO PAY FOR ALL ETERNITY! So, don’t feel bad when they say these things. Instead, you who are poor, remember the Bible says, God chose “the poor of this world to be rich in faith” (Jas. 2:5); you are in a spiritual high place, it is easier for you to “trust in the Lord with all your hearts, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5)—pray for these faithless rich people, they need your prayers; most of them, even the ones who go to church, aren’t even saved.
The Poor Should Be Like Paul
1.4. Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Seeing that several of you are poor, as Paul was, you have an upper hand. In order to imitate Paul, the best thing to do is get a Bible, and read the book of Acts, and Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and all the other letters in the Bible that Paul wrote. Imitate how this man lived his life. He is the model Christian. And remember this: he said, “We work hard with our own hands.” He also said, at another time, “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position” (Romans 12:16, NIV)—but actually another translation of the text is, “BE WILLING TO DO MENIAL WORK.” I am a security guard. Many people consider that to be menial work. But praise God; I rent a house and can provide for my family. And now I am looking forward to higher paying security jobs in the future. There’s power in being patient and just dealing with menial work. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING. AND I BLESS YOU ALL IN JESUS’ NAME!