I have an obligation to support ministries that are spreading the good news of Jesus and making disciples. I don’t think obligation is to harsh of a word. None of the work for Jesus is done for free. Salaries are required, people need to eat and have clothing. Rent needs to be paid for facilities to meet in. It takes money.
Because of abuses by some prosperity ministries, giving to the mission of Jesus seems to have fallen out of favor. It should not. It is important.
Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions. | Luke 8:1-3
Luke wants us to know that these women were not mere “clingers-on,” they were active contributors to the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom. Humanly speaking, this campaign could not have been waged without their support. The party had to eat, and the food was provided by these women. I cannot say for certain that no men contributed to the support of our Master’s mission, but we do know that many women played a crucial role in this matter.
Supporting: The Greek verb here is a familiar one, diakoneo, “to serve, minister,” from which we get our word “deacon.” In this verse it is found in the imperfect tense, meaning continual and habitual activity in the past. They supplied his financial needs again and again. Luke is recounting the typical way that Jesus’ ministry was supported.
Possessions: The Greek word is the substantive of huparcho, “what belongs to someone, someone’s property, possession, means.” They demonstrated what Paul called the spiritual gift of “contributing to the needs of others”
I wonder how much it cost to support Jesus’ food, clothing, and accommodation expenses, along with those of his Twelve disciples, and the incidental costs of his preaching mission over a period of two or three years? Certainly, in many towns and villages there was an outpouring of hospitality. But these women gave of their financial means time and time again. Whenever there was a need, Jesus could rely upon them. What a rare privilege they had!
Ministry costs money. This principle is so obvious it seems almost silly to state, but there seem to be those who overlook this reality, or who chose to ignore it. Even our Master’s ministry required money. He did not have the need for television production costs or for office space, but He and those who followed Him did need simple provisions, namely food. Our Master’s overhead did not include a hideaway retreat in the mountains or a yacht, nor a high personal income, but He and His followers had physical needs which people were privileged to participate in meeting.
Ministries sometimes mismanage money. It is very apparent that some ministers and some ministries mismanage the funds which are given in support of that ministry. Judas, we know, misused some of the funds which were given to support our Lord’s money. Such evils should not be minimized, but neither are they an excuse for failing to support God’s work. Let us take every precaution to prevent and to clean up mismanagement; but let us not avoid our responsibility to support God’s work.
Those who share in the costs of ministry, participate as partners in that ministry. I believe that Luke is telling us that these women who accompanied our Lord and who helped to finance it were a vital part of the “team” which proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God. Our Master put the matter this way:
“Anyone who received a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:41-42).
Thus, to sustain a prophet in his ministry is to share in the reward of his ministry. To support a prophet is to share in his work and in his reward.
It is biblical, in some cases, to be supported in ministry. Luke has told us that Jesus was supported in His ministry by a faithful group of women. Surely if our Master can be supported, it is biblical for other “missionaries” (those who proclaim the good news) to be supported as well.